Another reality check

My sainted mother used to say "everyone is entitled to an opinion no matter how wrong they are." David Brinkley said it a little more accurately for news types: "It's my opinion and everyone is entitled to hear it."

Earlier I opined that citzen bloggers may give conventional news sources a run for the money.

After a reality check from Jim McDonald, I'm rethinking my opinion. Jim and I worked our first newspaper gig at The Logan Banner.

I think I understand the general melody of this piece, but I am gravely concered by the Citizen's Media Corp or whatever you want to call it. Good or bad, the internet has given people a voice they never had before. BUT, for many, it's like giving a gang member a case of spray paint.

I disagree with many of the positions of certain large newspapers on many issues, but that does not stop me from reading them for their use of the language makes the story readable. However, many of the folks now using their internet voice have little to no English skills and and even less objectivity than either Hannity or Colmes. I don't care which side someone will come down on a topic, just make sense of it and express it well.

As far as the Beltway folks go, they all have their shorts bunched up trying to get one rung higher than where they are -- so they go for the sensational or the prissy. You couldn't shoot and ship me to a job there, unless it was to do the neighborhood stuff.

Jim worries about citizen journalists getting carried away with the speed of the Internet. In an effort to be first, they can into something prior to getting all the facts.

My biggest concern is assumption. I fear that a citizen journalist will, based on most of the facts, will make an assumption and discover they are dead wrong. That being said, pro journalists don't have a lock on getting the facts straight either.

I am worried that rumors, half-truths and outright lies will be the result of the new citizen reporter. CNN and MSNBC did it following Katrina and it turned from reporting to editorial to possible slander in a few cases.

During the second Persian Gulf war, I watched closely as Fox reported events inaccurately. Their version of the facts didn't always match up with the AP or CNN. Instead of correcting the story, Fox just stopped reporting that particular story and moved on to some aspect of George's dirty little war.

These issues are not new. Nor will they go away. That's one of the reasons newspapers are printed on cheap paper. Today's newspaper lines tomorrow's birdcage.

The art of newspapering has changed a great deal. We worked during a time when newspapers were moving from Ludlows and elrod machines to border tape and wax.

Jim and I agree on one significant point:

Someone is going to have to report and write the news. Today's J-Schools seem to be more interested in how it looks than how it reads. Graphics and electronic story telling seems to be the current rage. Of course, the mid 70s made everyone in J-school think they could be the next Wayward & Beerstein.