I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fatheaded Ed attacks criticism of BVD-clad bloggers

David Hazinski said in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse [as typified by Fatheaded Ed Brayton et al.]. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.

The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people "journalists." This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a "citizen surgeon" or someone who can read a law book is a "citizen lawyer." Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.

But unlike those other professions, journalism — at least in the United States — has never adopted uniform self-regulating standards. There are commonly accepted ethical principles — two source confirmation of controversial information or the balanced reporting of both sides of a story, for example, but adhering to the principles is voluntary. There is no licensing, testing, mandatory education or boards of review. Most other professions do a poor job of self-regulation, but at least they have mechanisms to regulate themselves. Journalists do not.

One of the few advantages of blogs as sources of information is that visitor comments can help make blogs "self-correcting" -- but this advantage obviously cannot work when bloggers arbitrarily censor comments.
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It's just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.

They are already doing that sort of thing -- distributing photos and videos of "happy slapping" and "bumfights." So far I am not aware of any attempt to frame the cops, but as the article says, "it's just a matter of time."

Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:

• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.

• They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

• Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff's auxiliaries are trained and certified.

Here are more suggestions:

In addition to the official news media, other authorities -- e.g., the courts and scholarly journals -- need to ban or regulate citation of blogs. Wickedpedia has a rule against citation of personal blogs but enforces the rule only for "crappy" blogs and not for "notable" blogs. No blog should ever be authoritatively cited unless the blog has a prominent notice pledging that there is no arbitrary censorship of comments.

I learned about Hazinski's article through the poster-child of BVD-clad blogging, Fatheaded Ed Brayton himself. Fatheaded Ed says,

But I would argue that blogging, at its best, does a considerably better job of reporting on and analyzing complex issues than the newspapers and networks do.

One problem is, of course, is that blogging is not always at its "best." And even at its best, blogging does not necessarily do a better job than -- or even as good a job as -- the official newsmedia. BVD-clad bloggers simply don't have the access that reporters for big news organizations have. Even the ability to instantly accept comments is not a blog advantage because a lot of online newspapers and networks accept comments -- and furthermore are much less prone to censor them.

Here's what Hazinski gets wrong: many of those "citizen journalists" are actually experts in their field, not merely experts in "journalism."

True, many bloggers are experts in the fields they blog about, but many are not. Ed, you are always pontificating about science and the law but you are not a scientist or a lawyer. In fact, by your own admission, you never even graduated from college.

Journalists often do not need to be experts in the fields they report about, because they quote the experts. And a journalist specializing in science reporting, for example, cannot be an expert in every scientific field.

Just take the coverage of the courts in the major media, which is nothing short of appalling. Sure, there are a few reporters who cover the courts whose work is good; Jan Crawford Greenburg in the print media is excellent, as is Nina Totenberg on radio and TV. But when a major Supreme Court ruling comes down, you're far more likely to hear serious, credible analysis of the case from Eugene Volokh, Jack Balkin, Stephen Bainbridge or any of a couple dozen other law professors who blog than you are from a reporter with a journalism degree but no background in the law.

The big advantage of popular law blogs like the Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization is the comment threads. Those blogs might just as well be thrown out the window if they practiced arbitrary censorship of comments like you do.

Mr. Hazinski, how do you propose controlling what people can write on their own webpages?

Mr. Hazinski is not proposing controlling what people can write on their own webpages -- here is what he is proposing (reproduced from above):

• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.

• They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

• Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff's auxiliaries are trained and certified.

Ed wrote,

The whole time I was reading this guy's ode to self-aggrandizement, I kept having one thought repeat in my head: "I'm a very important person. People are afraid of me. I drive a Dodge Stratus." Get over yourself, Hazinski; you just ain't that important.

Where is the "self-aggrandizement"? I didn't see any. It looks like the article really struck a raw nerve with you, Ed. Anyway, it looks like he is quite a bit more important than you, Ed -- he got his article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a big newspaper. Let's see you try it.

Related articles on this blog are here and here.

The backlash against BVD-clad blogging is growing.
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8 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> One of the few advantages of blogs as sources of information is that visitor comments can help make blogs "self-correcting" -- but this advantage obviously cannot work when bloggers arbitrarily censor comments. <

Then you should follow Ed's lead and not censor comments arbitrarily. I don't know why you want to keep pretending that he does, or that you don't!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I might add that we often read stories about professional reporters who are fired, suspended, or reprimanded by their employers for fabricating stories. Jayson Blair and Mitch Albom are well-known examples. What happens to bloggers who are caught fabricating stories? Zippo. They just go on merrily blogging as if nothing happened. I have caught Fatheaded Ed Brayton posting false and unsubstantiated information.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

note,iunderstand jan crawford greenburg has a communication and a political science degree from the university of alabama,and a law degree from the university of chicago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> note,iunderstand jan crawford greenburg has a communication and a political science degree from the university of alabama,and a law degree from the university of chicago. <<<<<<

So?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 2:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in Suburbanness said...

I read Ed Brayton's article that you linked. While I myself at times have been tempted to call Ed "fatheaded", I see no evidence of that in this article. I would suggest that you not generalize about Ed Brayton (and some politeness wouldn't hurt either). You could start by changing the title of your post to "Ed Brayton repels criticism of bloggers". Credit where credit is due. He is right and for the right reasons, and it does matter.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Ed Brayton is full of crap. He is the poster child for what is wrong with BVD-clad blogging.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:24:00 PM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>I have caught Fatheaded Ed Brayton posting false and unsubstantiated information.<<<

No, you have been caught posting false and unsubstantiated accusations that Ed was posting false and unsubstantiated information. In almost all cases, the information Ed posted was true and substantiated.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 6:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> I have caught Fatheaded Ed Brayton posting false and unsubstantiated information. <

But Dunghill Larry Fafarman posts little else!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 7:18:00 PM  

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