Thursday, February 02, 2006

Calling the MSM to account and how to do it

There was an interesting lunch at the National Press Club in Washington last week between some prominent bloggers and journalists from the Mainstream Media. Deborah Howell, the ombudsman from the Washington Post, made a surprise appearance at the lunch. You can read accounts of the lunch and subsequent responses here, and here . What is interesting is the hurt expressed by Howell at the response of bloggers and commenters on her blog to her failure to get Wapo writers to correct their assertions that Abramoff made direct donations to Democrat Politicians. (The executive editor of the Washington Post – Jim Brady,  closed the comment section and accused the commenters and bloggers of offensive language and hate/violent speech etc.)  Interesting philosophical point of note – can words be violent?

Jukeboxgrad has an interesting post here on the history of the issue and how it was managed and also lists issues which remain unanswered after the Wapo/Howell/Brady incident. I have to say I am more interested in the incident than the issue which fuelled it – ie. the way in which bloggers and commenters respond to the mainstream media and the way in which the MSM dismisses the blogosphere. The Washington Post have even had a panel on ‘interactivity ethics’!!! God forbid that readers read stuff and bite back!

Whilst the debates between bloggers and representatives of the MSM on which sector is better/more accurate/more objective and indeed bloggers calling journalists to account for their privilege/lack of accountability are not new, I am interested in the way in which the two interact. Given the development of the Irish blogosphere and the impending election here (longest campaign ever) it will be interesting to observe if a similar situation of conflict between the blog world and D’olier St./Talbot Street would ever come to pass.

Irish columnists in MSM rarely blog or have a facility for readers to comment on what they write beyond the letters to the editor page. However I think we are seeing an increase in bloggers taking columnists and their arguments to task – and a good example of this is Fiona’s post on Ronan Mullens latest article.


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