Controlling the Facts.

The comment left on the previous post deserves being here up front:
One thing I’ve noticed even about generally positive TV reports on blogging is that they end right when the subject gets juicy and interesting.
Last night’s Nightline came to a close with the hanging and open question about, in essence, the editorial process — in part inspired by the legislator from Virginia complaining about not having the blogger’s story “run by him” first.
To me, that’s precisely the point at which the meaty discussion happens, and we need to get into the whole issue of blogs “outing” the editorial discussion that normally happens prior to a story’s publication in traditional media, and conducting that discussion out in the open as the story evolves.

When I worked as an “Editorial Associate” at the New York State Legislature (I’m talking 30 years ago), legislative staff made a point of befriending reporters who covered that beat. On the positive side, we wanted the reporters to make sure that they had the facts, had right information when they wrote about proposed legislation. We wanted to make sure that they understood the intent and the planned outcome. On the dark side, of course, hopes were that the reporters would not print something that the legislators did not want printed.
The legislator who appeared on Nightline seemed pretty put-out by the fact that, while reporters always run their stories by him before submitting them for publication, the blogger who stirred up opposition to his one piece of legislation didn’t do that. Well, yeaahhh!
Power players usually understand that one hand washes the other. “You keep this information off your newspaper’s pages, and I’ll give you other inside information that you can use.”
Independent bloggers don’t need to accept those kinds of understandings. Independent bloggers can have the freedom to do what other news media should also do, but all too often don’t — dig out and stir up the actual truth. In complex issues, it’s often a matter of “truths” — examining them, analyzing them, comparing them. And then bloggers have the freedom to add their own conclusions, their own opinions.
Nightline only began to approach that difference between mainstream media journalists and blogger journalists. And it’s an issue that makes all the difference in the world of reporting.

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