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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Most unintentionally funny (and self-revelatory) lines I've read today

From the comments of "Jude" — whom I believe to be Jude Nagurney Camwell (a/k/a "Iddybud"), because she'd commented earlier there and has written similar things elsewhere — in a thread on Eason Jordan's downfall in Jay Rosen's blog:

We have to meet it [i.e., the threat from "blogstorm troopers"] dead-on, expose it for what it is, and weaken its freedom-crushing power.

It's all about ethics. With reason and strength of conviction, we need to drown this right-wing machine they're calling "new media" in the bathtub.

So stipulated! — that it's all about ethics, that is. However, some of us from outside the MSM happen to believe that following journalistic ethics actually forbid one from making up and publicizing defamatory claims of fact, and also require that journalists who've done so be held accountable.

In theory, at least, that also seems to be the position of the Society of Professional Journalists.  Its Code of Ethics demands in its first-listed item that journalists should "[t]est the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible." Under the heading "Be Accountable," the SPJ also opines that journalists should "[a]dmit mistakes and correct them promptly," "[e]xpose unethical practices of journalists and the news media," and "[a]bide by the same high standards to which they hold others."

(Other bits from the SPJ's Code of Ethics that also seem to me to be pertinent here:  "Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context." Also: "Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention." And: "Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.")

Perhaps someone should also explain to Ms. Camwell that many bloggers happen to believe that exercising free speech through blogging is the exact opposite of "freedom-crushing." To quote another recent post on this subject by someone far, far wiser than "Jude":

I will, however, explain to you where my passion comes in.

I am proud and happy to be a political blogger.

I am free to speak about issues which I believe are crucial to the health of our democracy and no one can fire me.

They can only target me for critcism [sic] .... I believe that’s a good thing. As President Bush would say, “Bring 'em on.”

Oopsies! That was also Jude Nagurney Camwell, also writing about Eason Jordan on "The American Street."

Ms. Camwell goes on there to write (boldface hers):

When I see blogs being used in a way in which I believe American journalism will approach another step closer to being pure propaganda, I will say so.

I’m saying so.

Well, Ms. Camwell, I have some trouble following that. Maybe it's just a syntax problem — an implied or assumed causal link between the way "blogs [are] being used" and "American journalism [approaching] another step closer to being pure propaganda." That linkage seems kinda dubious to me, ma'am. I always understood "propaganda" to be something dictated by a ruling elite, operating in absolute harmony of purpose under precisely dictated orders. I double-checked my spam blocker this morning just to be sure, and — nope, Karl Rove and the RNC still haven't even been trying to dictate what I blog about, much less what I think!

On the other hand, I'm feeling an unaccountable sensation of fear when I look at my bathtub since reading your comments. If there's a noise outside my door when I'm in the tub tonight, should I be worried that it's Karl — or that it's you, Ms. Camwell?


UPDATE (Mon Feb. 14 @ 11:10pm): As promised in her comment here, Ms. Camwell has published a well-tempered (if to me unpersuasive) reply on her own blog, to which I've left a comment as well. My tub no longer frightens me.

Posted by Beldar at 05:36 PM in Humor, Mainstream Media, Weblogs | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Most unintentionally funny (and self-revelatory) lines I've read today and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» The from Sue Bob's Diary

Tracked on Feb 15, 2005 9:57:46 PM


(1) Obelix made the following comment | Feb 13, 2005 6:28:33 PM | Permalink

Good grief, now I'm worried. I'm not the proprieter of a blog, but I often add comments to blogs I enjoy. And I guess I am right of center. Do Jude's comments mean I need to worry about what might happen to me while bathing?

(2) Jay Rosen made the following comment | Feb 13, 2005 6:32:50 PM | Permalink

Beldar: Good reply to Judge. I am sure she will like it, for the chance to answer back. Replying to your question about ethics and Eason Jordan over at PressThink, in this post I sketch one scenario of what happened.

If that happened, I would consider it possibly a breach of something foundational to the journalist's moral code, leaving aside chapter and verse. You don't speculate, as a newsman, about matters like soldiers killing civilians. Best I can do until I see the tape.

(3) Jay Rosen made the following comment | Feb 13, 2005 6:34:18 PM | Permalink

Errr. Not, Judge, JUDE. Well, have fun with the typo!

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 13, 2005 7:00:55 PM | Permalink

Mr. Rosen, I made, and had to edit, that same typo more than once. Dr. Freud would be amused at us both, I think. And Ms. Camwell's welcome to comment here.

(5) Dave Schuler made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 7:52:07 AM | Permalink

I made very similar point here. It's also interesting to point out that Jordan was brought down by bloggers, by fellow-professional journalists (although professional ethics requires some action on their part), but, as far as we know, by businessmen. Potential damage to the stockholders, don't you know.

(6) Dave Schuler made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 7:52:45 AM | Permalink

Should have been “not brought down”.

(7) Jude made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 9:10:38 AM | Permalink

Someone referred me to this site.
I enjoyed your comments.
Thanks for the tip on the typo.
I'll be sure to give you a reply at my blog today.


(8) Neo made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 1:11:07 PM | Permalink

In each and every case where the blogsphere has "brought down" somebody and/or organization it has always been based something "there there."
Most of the tactics used would have been cheered and probably endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi as being within the domain of non-violent protest.
The misplaced notion that the blogsphere has some sort of magical and/or political powers shows the stupidity of the detractors. The Blogsphere has virtually the same powers as Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the power to shame. Nothing more or less. This is a power that only works when the target can be shamed with transparency to the truth.

(9) Sue Bob made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 8:13:48 PM | Permalink

And what about this part of the ethics code: "Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media."

Isn't that a large part of what bloggers do?

(10) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 14, 2005 10:54:10 PM | Permalink

Yup, Sue Bob, and I believe bloggers should and will continue to do so, albeit as amateur journalists (of sorts) who haven't necessarily endorsed the SPJ's Code. Many bloggers in fact hold themselves to higher ethical standards (e.g., more rigorous attribution rules, no reliance on anonymous sources, prompter and fuller and more prominent correction of errors, etc.)

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