Sago Headlines Tell All!

From (From AP). Read ’em and weep! Keep in mind that big media demand perfection from other groups and institutions–the military, FEMA, blogs, whatever. But they find it very hard to admit their own failures…


Originally posted January 5, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

Bird Flu Blogging: Truth to Power

UPDATED: 01/09/06

Big media are not as big as we need them to be. A thousand reporters herd to the Michael Jackson trial, but not enough seek out places where really important news is breaking. The number of fulltime foreign correspondents working for so called “major networks” and newspapers has decreased in recent years [1] as has the amount of of money and resources mainstream media spends on foreign newsgathering. [2] Tom Fenton, the veteran foreign correspondent for The Baltimore Sun and CBS News just noted: “American news organizations [have] so depleted the ranks of hard news reporters over the years that they suddenly had to send out whatever lifestyle, fashion, and gossip types they could muster on a moment’s notice.” [3]

The mainstream reporter, as well, often stays in capitals and major cities. Bloggers, however, can specialize, look at nooks and crannies big media don’t care or don’t know about, or don’t have any focus on.

Take Bird Flu: Those two words are getting major big media coverage and government attention.

Here is one item covered by the BBC of a few days ago.

Two teenagers in Turkey have died of bird flu, Turkish officials say, in the first cases outside South-East Asia. [Read more…]

KABC Los Angeles Interview

Your PBB editor was just interviewed by Kim Serafin of KABC Radio Los Angeles about the Sago media controversy. Key point she made that is that in news rooms, panic sets in when some other news org is first with a story. My thought: “No member of the public cares who is first with breaking news unless it is (a) a real emergency (chemical tanker spill in town) or (b) a big investigative piece (WP on Watergate).”

People do care about accuracy: who gets the facts right. That applies to blogs as well.

Apparently my call for a Pulitzer for reporters and editors who did not go with false story was mentioned on Fox News Watch.

Originally posted January 7, 2006 at PolicyByBlog

Are Blogs an Echo Chamber?: Do Political Bloggers Only Read Blogs That They Agree With?


Frank Athens of the Washington Posts makes an accusation that one hears often cast against blogging:

“[The most] troubling trait of the Internet [is that] Rather than opening minds, it can close them, thanks to echo-chamber Web sites and blogs. We like to read Web sites and blogs that we agree with and that reinforce our opinions. Aside from the few of you who practice “know your enemy” browsing, how many of you liberals read How many of you conservatives frequent

His implication is that blog consumption is ideologically self-referential: liberals read Daily Kos; conservatives read powerlineblog and so on. And never the twain do meet. (See comment by Jeff Jarvis).

Is this true?

First, Athens’ unstated premise is that “neutral platforms” like, say the Washington Post, are superior content providers because they offer an internal marketplace of different, competing ideas, each given equal weight. Well, I’m not sure how many people, left or right, truly believe that the Washington Post, or any television network, delivers, impartial, fair, balanced or objective coverage of the issues of the day. And, as posted here, and commented on by others, partisanship, not objectivity was the norm in the era in which our Founders first safeguarded a free and open press. [Read more…]

Google Video and Politics

By now I’m sure most people who are online have discovered Google Video.

I know I have watched the following dozens of times:

“Funny EDS Commercial – Cat Herding”

Ghostly Car Ad… Do you believe in ghost????

jana gana mana……National Song of India

Octopus Eats Shark

Lipa Shmeltzer – Abi Meleibt!

Blonde antelope

Is this Deja Vu–and I do mean “vu” as in view– all over again?

In July 1999 the Pitas company started distributing software tools to build personal Web sites or “blogs.” A month later Pyra Labs (now owned by google) released the program Blogger to the public which made blogs user-friendly, generally accessible, and particularly personal, as bloggers could name the sites themselves (and after themselves). Bloggers started reaching out–finding other bloggers–to attack or to ally with or just to reference or seek help from. It was accumulative knowledge building about technology, from how to type html to what to blog about. In other words, what made blogs was not just personalization but affiliations–the voluntary associations of the democratic experiment. Many additional programs, like Typepad, MovableType, Squarespace, and others simplified the blogging experience even further, helping the phenomenon to become ubiquitous. [Read more…]

Washington Post “Shuts off comments”: Big Media’s Troubles in Adapting to Blogging


The biggest question facing political and news workers in the years to come will be “what do I do about blogs?” Many newspapers and political campaigns will have to experiment, since nobody has yet written a definitive rule book on integrating blogs into big media and professional politics; indeed, PolicyByBlog is about that process of exploration. And blogs may evolve faster than large corporations or campaigns can adapt to them.

Take the Washington Post. Like many newspapers, it has opened up blogs as yet another component of its online edition. One is edited by its ombudsman, Deborah Howell.

Self-evident good idea, yes? Build new interactivity with readers, cultivate (possible) customer loyalty, be up-to-date.

The Post, however, just announced that for the time being “we have shut off comments on this blog indefinitely.” [Read more…]

BLOGGING UP: News Roundup–01/26/06

I call it “BLOGGING UP”: when organizations, government agencies, politicians, commercial companies, advocacy or lobbying groups or big media (print and electronic) try to use blogging for internal or public communication. The whole premise behind this website is that political blogging is coming of age as many mainstream folks and institutions try to adopt or adapt to blogs.

I will start a new feature here–titled BLOGGING UP–which will periodically survey the variety of “professional” manifestations.

A global roundup for this week:

From Japan: “LIVEDOOR’S HORIE USES BLOG TO DENY WRONGDOING.” The president of a company accused of financial misdeeds starts a blog to protest his innocence. Note his youth (33) and that he is an “Internet mogul.” Will 72-year-old presidents of lumber supply companies do the same someday? [Read more…]

Interview with Ken Spain [Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)]

Shearon Roberts, an LSU Masters Student, working for the Wall Street Journal conducted a series of interviews with interesting and innovative political bloggers. In November 2005 she talked to Ken Spain [Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)]

How involved is Mr. Conaway in operating the blog,,making posts and reading comments?

We assign a staffer to maintain the blog on a daily basis, the Congressman is very active in his posts, however, all the posts do not come from the Congressman, some come from staffers. The Congressman usually blogs once or twice a week usually on an issue that is important to him, an issue that the staff may point out that has a relevance for that day or time, we would usually try and get the Congressman to blog on that issue…if he does not point out what he would like to blog about.

He will sign off at the bottom of his blog entry as Mike. The other staffers will [sign in as themselves] for instance if the Congressman is heading into a budget meeting that day, our legislative assistant will blog and say this is what the Congressman is doing today, this is his take on the issue and then she will sign off as so and so staffer/legislative assistant for budget issues for Congressman Mike Conaway. [Read more…]


Before I started working on a book on blogs (BLOGWARS) almost all my research was on photojournalism and its famous icons and mediated imagery of other kinds. Obviously it is of great interest to me that blogging has driven the great controversy over visual coverage of the Israeli-Hezbollah war. That prompted me to write my “Photojournalism in Crisis” essay for Editor&Publisher which I posted on here at PBB and was picked up my many blogs.

Some updates…


Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor&Publisher has published a major “DEFENSE OF WAR PHOTOGRAPHERS” against attacks by bloggers. (See Part I and Part II). Very much worth reading in counterpoint to my original E&P piece as well.



This is an important post—perhaps when a future history of blogs is written “The Red Cross Ambulance Incident” will be considered a landmark of the genre. Certainly it moves forward the great “fauxtography” debate, but more than that it helps legitimize bloggers as people who both comment upon and create media content.

As noted here in PBB, once upon a time, Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, in one of a series of professional dismissals of bloggers, summed up their contribution to the information society with the following: “Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That’s not bad. But it’s not enough.” [Read more…]

Interview of PbB Editor by “TheRealUglyAmerican”

I was interviewed by phone by Rick Calvert of TheRealUglyAmerican on blogs and journalism in general and blogs and the “fauxtography” debate in particular.

Referenced at BlueCrabBoulevard.

Originally posted September 15, 2006 at PolicyByBlog