Patterico's Pontifications

1/5/2008

Helen Thomas: Bloggers Don’t Have the Standards and Ethics of Big Media Reporters

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:54 pm

This is almost too good. It’s the standard Big Media snobbishness about bloggers — coming in a quote from one of bloggers’ biggest punching bags, Helen Thomas:

“What I really worry about is that I think the bloggers and everyone, everyone with a laptop thinks they’re journalists,” Thomas said. “And, they certainly don’t have our standards. They don’t have our ethics, and so forth. There’s a deterioration.”

“[T]hey certainly don’t have our standards. They don’t have our ethics . . .” Well, she’s right about that.

Here’s one example.

On January 2, crab-grass blogger Dan Riehl wrote a post about a wide array of media outlets that got taken in by a phony Facebook entry for Bilawal Bhutto.

On January 3 — the next day — the L.A. Times‘s Rosa Brooks published a column that quoted the phony entry:

And who knows? Maybe Bilawal’s not such a bad choice for the Pakistan People’s Party. A history student at Oxford, he already has a constituency — at least on Facebook, where someone has established a new fan group called “Let’s not assassinate Bilawal Bhutto because he’s hot, OK?” Bilawal’s own Facebook profile is fairly modest: “I am not a politician or a great thinker. I’m merely a student. I do the things that students do like make mistakes, eat junk food … but most importantly of all … learn.” Still, “My time to lead will come.”

The L.A. Times has since issued a “For the Record” item that states:

Pakistan: Rosa Brooks’ Thursday column about political dynasties cited a quote from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Facebook profile. Facebook has since found the entries to be “not authentic” and disabled them.

This papers over the fact that the writing was on the wall the night before Brooks’s column ran. At 7:59 p.m., a New York Times blog quoted a Facebook associate warning that the account had been set up by someone else — and blogger Riehl had picked up on it by 11:03 p.m. But dinosaur Big Media columnist Brooks still had a column printed the next day quoting the phony entry.

If Rosa Brooks had bloggers’ standards, I guess the L.A. Times wouldn’t have had to issue that correction.

But Helen Thomas is right. We don’t have their standards.

(Via Michelle.)

44 Comments

  1. Helen Thomas probably still believes that dozens of people were raped and killed inside by Superdome during hurricane Katrina – as reported by the highly trained, super ethical MSM journalists standing 50 yards outside the Superdome.

    How could these journalists be wrong about what is happening thousands of miles away in Iraq?

    Comment by Perfect Sense (b6ec8c) — 1/5/2008 @ 6:08 pm

  2. probably still believes that dozens of people were raped and killed inside by Superdome during hurricane Katrina – as reported by the highly trained, super ethical MSM journalists standing 50 yards outside the Superdome.

    Now let’s not forget that it was none other than Shep Smith (you know.. of Fox News, the only network that has ethics and fair reporting) who reported this.

    Comment by voiceofreason (f7fd6b) — 1/5/2008 @ 6:17 pm

  3. Hey, the LAT just send me a letter saying they would give me a $20 gift card for In-N-Out Burger if I subscribe for $39/year. Is this Zell’s new idea?

    It’s the bias, stupid.

    I remain faithful to my principles and proudly buy my own McDonald’s fish/fries meal today and every day until the reign of terror on Spring Street is over!

    Comment by Patricia (f56a97) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:01 pm

  4. That’s Helen “The Voice of Hezbollah” Thomas.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:30 pm

  5. Now let’s not forget that it was none other than Shep Smith (you know.. of Fox News, the only network that has ethics and fair reporting) who reported this.

    Yep, and a lot of people think he’s a joke because of it.

    Now, who was it making claims of cannibalism?

    Comment by Rob Crawford (8578d9) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:30 pm

  6. Will it take a stake in the heart of that old hag to remove her from the scene?

    Comment by Banjo (b5278d) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:33 pm

  7. No comments like that. Cut it out.

    Comment by Patterico (4bda0b) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:38 pm

  8. My apologies, Patterico.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 1/5/2008 @ 7:39 pm

  9. They say beauty is only skin deep.
    But ugly is to the bone.

    Comment by martin (f4752c) — 1/5/2008 @ 8:01 pm

  10. she’s done some good work in the past, just like david lazarus, but…

    awhile back there was a popular book about adaptation in business, who moved my cheese? some msm journalists are making positively ratlike noises at the sight of bloggers challenging the exclusivity of the guild.

    Comment by assistant devil's advocate (ebed6f) — 1/5/2008 @ 8:22 pm

  11. “she’s done some good work in the past, just like david lazarus, but…”

    When, in the 19th century?

    Comment by daleyrocks (906622) — 1/5/2008 @ 9:02 pm

  12. If Helen Thomas lionized bloggers as the “vanguard of contemporary media,” would she win consideration or notice?

    Comment by steve (6ee9ff) — 1/5/2008 @ 10:40 pm

  13. If Helen Thomas lionized bloggers as the “vanguard of contemporary media,” would she win consideration or notice?

    I don’t think bloggers will ever have to worry about any such statement coming from Thomas, Steve…that would be a career-ending move for her. Or anybody else in the MSM.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/5/2008 @ 10:55 pm

  14. Watching Helen Thomas behavior during the White House Press briefings on C-Span is the very embodiment of deterioration of standards she rails against others.

    Comment by mike191 (a0af37) — 1/6/2008 @ 7:11 am

  15. Actually, mike191, Thomas was comedy gold when Tony Snow was press secretary.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 7:55 am

  16. First, the rise of the bloggers has exposed the left-dominated media propaganda machine. The MSM are interested in the truth if it conforms to their view of the world. They believe that the American public is not smart enough look at the facts and reach a conclusion of ground truth. The MSM must tell them what to think. They and their editorial staff oppose the War and the Bush Administration. When things go badly, the message is rushed to publication with the unverified assumption of fact. When things go well, that news is suppressed or at best reported with a strong dose of skepticism.

    Second, battlefield reporting is now being done by two groups of people – civilian bloggers and military bloggers. Embedded reporters during the April-May 2003 Iraq War actually saw our armed forces for what the are, honest, decent, responsible troops doing the job our civilian government assigned to them. Having an MSM reporter express earned admiration for the military does not match their pre-ordained narrative that our troops are what Scott Thomas Beauchamp described in his fictional”Shock Troops”. Rather than embedding reporters, the journalists sit in bars in the green zone awaiting a local stringer to deliver their “story”. If you want to know what is happening, read Michael Yon or one of the other first hand bloggers.

    Finally, the Media has been caught fabricating news or accepting third party accounts which meet their view of reality. LGF and the AP Green Helmet stories, Dissident Frogman’s hilarous “Shooty – No Shooty” video, the above mentioned TNR Baghdad Diarist Beauchamp, Haditha Videos and the nearly daily Iraqi Police mass grave stories. The media, as they have been for years, make stories up. It’s the path to a Pulitzer. The problem is they got caught.

    The first tenent of journalist ethics is to report truth. Our main stream media have repeatedly failed to do so. Rather than criticizing the bloggers, perhaps Ms. Thomas should tell us these Ethics and Standards of Journalism.

    Nine Elements of Journalism (by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosensteil)

    1. Truth
    2. Loyalty to Citizens
    3. Verification
    4. Independence from Subjects
    5. Independent monitor of Power
    6. Forum for Criticism & Compromise
    7. Make the significant interesting, and relevant
    8. Comprehensive & proportional
    9. Freedom of personal conscience

    Standards

    Cite original sources
    Attribute source material
    Use multiple sources
    Check Every Fact
    Report every perspective
    Be Unbiased
    Balance objectivity and skepticism
    Take care organizing and reporting information
    Avoid confidential sources
    Decline gifts and favors
    Recuse if biased

    Comment by arch (4ad6bd) — 1/6/2008 @ 8:02 am

  17. Avoid confidential sources

    C’mon! If they did that, three quarters of their stories would disappear!

    Comment by Rob Crawford (8578d9) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:13 am

  18. #17,

    Good list but I’d recommend applying those same standards to the blogs.
    Items 3,4,5 & 8 of standards are badly lacking in the blogosphere.
    Of the standards you listed these are very rarely met in the blogosphere and there are probably no more than a handful that can claim they adhere to even half of the standards consistently.

    It is the nature of the internet and blogging in the current state.
    I think the analogy for bloggers that best fits in today’s world is “ankelbiters” found in the computer security arena:
    Mostly inexperienced young adolescent males who use tools and methods given to them by more experienced and older hackers. Often times they have no real understanding of how those tools work.

    And at this point if the MSM disappeared the blogosphere would fall along with it. It was developed as a foil to the MSM, never an alternative source of journalism. It is more effective when the blogger is topical, say a gardening blog, where specific subjects are dealt with.

    The blogosphere is an interesting diversion but not the source for absolute truth, justice and all that is holy.

    Comment by voiceofreason (e6a033) — 1/6/2008 @ 10:24 am

  19. Although this doesn’t involve journalistic ethics, it is a nice example of the speed of press vs online/bloggers.

    Today’s Sunday Chicago Tribune contains a Parade Magazine insert. The cover story is “Is Benazir Bhutto America’s best hope against Al-Qaeda?” and is an interview with Bhutto and Gail Sheehy. Opening to the article you get the pull quote “As Benazir Bhutto seeks a return to power, Tuesday’s election in Pakistan could profoundly affect the fight against terrorism.”

    Hmm, and I hear I thought Bhutto was killed back on the 27th. Oh well, guess not according to the Tribune. It is corrected in the online version of Parade, but says the Jan 6 issue had already gone to press. Nevertheless, it shows that dead tree media cannot keep up with bloggers and online news

    Comment by ThreeSheets (8b0b81) — 1/6/2008 @ 11:36 am

  20. vor…
    Gee, thanks. I never thought that I would again be an “…inexperienced young adolescent male…”; now, if I only had the time to set up a blog (yeh, I’ve got the time, I just don’t want to – yet). And, again, a blog is short for what: a web log, journal, diary, an individual’s observation of the passing scene.

    Journalism is a very wide tent, encompassing various methods of passing on facts and/or opinions. But, if you’re in the “news” business, you should attempt to report facts, not subjective opinion disguised as facts.

    Bloggers can be, and probably should be, considered journalists – they, after all, are keeping a journal. Are they reporters? They can be; but, if they attempt that function, they should attempt to comply with accepted standards and ethics.

    I think the point that was trying to be made, was that Post-Modern Journalists have forgotten that the Freedom of the Press secured by the 1st Amendment is a freedom secured for publishers – plus, I believe that most publishers have forgotten that too, and have failed to rein-in their underlings.

    Journalists need to go back to reporting truth (objectively, not subjectively) and facts. If they wish to opine, they should buy a printing press, radio station, etc., or write a book!

    And, if the MSM disappeared tomorrow, what would be the fate of the blogoshpere? It would thrive as it attempted to fill the vacumn. Some would fail, and others would survive and become even more successful than they are. This is how life operates.

    Comment by Another Drew (8018ee) — 1/6/2008 @ 12:20 pm

  21. #18:

    VOR, you sound like a jounalist that is tired of getting a patoot-kicking from the blogs day after day.

    Your whole argument has been made before and knocked out of the park. At least on the right.

    If you think the blogs don’t police themselves, try putting up some false information where lots of people concerned with truth and accuracy will see it…and make sure you have a helmet and plenty of protective gear on.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 12:49 pm

  22. Another Drew,

    I don’t disagree with many of the criticisms about the professional media. Where you and I disagree is on the importance/relevance of blogs.

    Paul,
    Knocked out of the park? Okay whatever you say. Name the standards and elements from above that blogs meet on a regular basis, then try naming those blogs. What are the holy blogs on the right that you burn incense to?
    And I’m not a journalist or a blogger – just one of the 4 billion or so opinions running rampant on the planet.

    Comment by voiceofreason (572f4d) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:23 pm

  23. burning incense…
    Personally, I don’t burn incense to anybody, or thing.
    How 60′s!

    Comment by Another Drew (8018ee) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:31 pm

  24. Another Drew,

    you must have been reading through the beads in your doorway! That was addressed to Paul not you.

    btw
    http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf

    has a pretty objective analysis about the internet and blogs. no earth shattering revelations but interesting.

    Comment by voiceofreason (572f4d) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:34 pm

  25. “And, they certainly don’t have our standards. They don’t have our ethics, and so forth. There’s a deterioration.” — Helen Thomas

    Yes, Helen, they don’t have your standards, your ethics, etc. There is a deterioration. That’s why we’re lucky we have bloggers to pick up the slack from the MSM.

    Comment by Bill M (55e5bb) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:35 pm

  26. Name the standards and elements from above that blogs meet on a regular basis, then try naming those blogs.

    Start with the list on the blogroll just to the right, buddy boy.

    The blogs on the right with the most traffic, the most blogroll apprearnces, the ones that day after day deliver the goods are the ones that meet such standards. You see, those that don’t take a beating from their peers…and comprise a “Gotcha!” moment for froth-mouthed lefties that can’t win idealogical debates with those bloggers.

    Look for the ones who put their corrections right at the top of the page when pointed out by someone else, instead of burying them or not even bothering to correct them like the Dog Trainer.

    What are the holy blogs on the right that you burn incense to?

    I don’t burn incense…I simply use critical thinking skills, which are sorely lacking in many quarters.

    And I’m not a journalist or a blogger – just one of the 4 billion or so opinions running rampant on the planet.

    I never said you were, simply that you sound like one.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:46 pm

  27. Paul,
    So you really don’t know which ones meet those standards. Why don’t you just say so?
    I would imagine it is because you pick blogs based on your comfort level with the host’s opinions rather than checking the blog reputation to meet all those standards of fact checking you mention.
    I doubt I would see you looking at Huffington Post or DKos, yet they have more readership than many of the rightie blogs combined. But that is because you don’t agree with the politics of those sites, no more no less.
    It seems that you are more concerned with finding an echo chamber than seeking out truth. As I said before there is nothing wrong with seeking out pleasant diversions as long as you recognize the many limitations.

    Comment by voiceofreason (572f4d) — 1/6/2008 @ 1:56 pm

  28. So you really don’t know which ones meet those standards. Why don’t you just say so?

    Because my answer is shorter than typing out the blogroll, Mr. Assumption.

    I would imagine it is because you pick blogs based on your comfort level with the host’s opinions rather than checking the blog reputation to meet all those standards of fact checking you mention.

    Remember those critical thinking skills? That’s how they’re used, Mr. Projection.

    I doubt I would see you looking at Huffington Post or DKos, yet they have more readership than many of the rightie blogs combined.

    Yes, there’s always an audience for tabloid journalism, muckraking and fantasies.

    But that is because you don’t agree with the politics of those sites, no more no less.
    Lefty sites are rare in when it comes to meeting those standards.

    It seems that you are more concerned with finding an echo chamber than seeking out truth.

    More projection, because you can’t win.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 2:07 pm

  29. Paul,
    Thanks for making my point about the blogs. Name calling and sarcasm are used when the poster cannot prove their assertion.

    “I read it on the internet – it’s gotta be true” – Paul circa 2008

    Comment by voiceofreason (572f4d) — 1/6/2008 @ 2:11 pm

  30. Fine, blogs engage in name calling. So does Helen Thomas so evidently that is not a criteria she uses to distinguish herself from blogs.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 1/6/2008 @ 2:29 pm

  31. Thanks for making my point about the blogs. Name calling and sarcasm are used when the poster cannot prove their assertion.

    Sarcasm is also used against an opponent advancing ludicrous arguments like you did in #27.

    As for name calling…you made assumptions that simply weren’t the case, so I called you Mr. Assumption. You took those assumptions and created a fictional picture what you thought I am, so I called you Mr. Projection. That’s usually referred to as “accurate description,” not “name calling.”

    I didn’t prove your point at all. What I proved is how ludicrous your arguments are, done so the instant you hit Submit Comment and declared victory.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 3:10 pm

  32. “I read it on the internet – it’s gotta be true” – Paul circa 2008

    I thought you were one of the good lefty commenters on this site, one who brought good arguments to the table, one who would test our mettle and sharpen our debate skills.

    Statements like that illustrates either you didn’t bring your “A” game…or maybe I was wrong in my evaluation of your contributions.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 3:13 pm

  33. I thought you were one of the good lefty commenters on this site, one who brought good arguments to the table

    Is such a creature actually in existence?

    Comment by juandos (c889a5) — 1/6/2008 @ 4:57 pm

  34. Is such a creature actually in existence?

    Like I said, maybe I was wrong.

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 5:00 pm

  35. “That’s Helen “The Voice of Hezbollah” Thomas.”

    -SPQR

    “No comments like that. Cut it out.”

    -Patterico

    Yeah, SPQR. Cut it out. I’d hate to think there were people so stupid that they correlated an opposing viewpoint with terrorist sympathies. Or maybe Patterico would hate to think his site played host to people that make construable death threats (i.e. Banjo, whom Patterico may have been addressing in the first place), jokingly or otherwise. Sure takes the fun out of pointing to similar behavior on intellectual shitholes like Hot Air, HuffPo, or LGF.

    Comment by Leviticus (bdc54a) — 1/6/2008 @ 5:48 pm

  36. I’d hate to think there were people so stupid that they correlated an opposing viewpoint with terrorist sympathies.

    This from a commenter who makes moral equivalence between a quarantine and a concentration camp. Who argues that New Mexico has no illegal immigration problem while Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico declares a state of emergency. Who implies Michelle Malkin is a bigot towards immigrants in her book Invasion despite the fact she states on page xiv of the introduction that her legal immigrant parents were the inspiration for the book.

    Sure takes the fun out of pointing to similar behavior on intellectual shitholes like Hot Air, HuffPo, or LGF.

    That’s really a shame, isn’t it?

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/6/2008 @ 7:00 pm

  37. It might be nice to strap Helen in one of those electric carts you see in supermarkets. Give her a big bucket of coins, hang a drool cup around her neck and let her loose in front of a long row of slot machines with a bunch of blue haired ladies. Hog heaven in more ways than one.

    Comment by daleyrocks (906622) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:18 pm

  38. Paul,

    Can’t you articulate any point without cursing, name calling or denigrating others?
    I’m still waiting for you to name the sites that fit the critieria mentioned earlier. The fact is you can’t and sound like a truther in your reply “Just look at the sites on your right”.

    Comment by voiceofreason (783b10) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:21 pm

  39. VOR – Paul made his point very well, more than once. You are refusing to listen.

    Comment by daleyrocks (906622) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:26 pm

  40. Leviticus, well actually if you had listened to some of Helen Thomas’ comments during the Israel-Hezbollah comment you would not have heard dissent but rather Hezbollah propaganda regurgitated. But thanks for the “stupid” comment. I’ll treasure it.

    Comment by SPQR (26be8b) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:27 pm

  41. Daleyrocks,

    He simply cannot name a site that he claims is the paragon of good ethics and I don’t expect he will.

    most traffic, the most blogroll apprearnces, the ones that day after day deliver the goods are the ones that meet such standards

    is not a definition of the elements and standards defined earlier which is what I asked him to do.

    I am a little disappointed at your lack of respect for the elderly re your comment about Helen Thomas in #37.

    Comment by voiceofreason (783b10) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:34 pm

  42. What lack of respect – she would be happy.

    Comment by daleyrocks (906622) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:42 pm

  43. My apologies, Patterico.

    I was talking to Banjo, whose comment could be interpreted as, well, not exactly a threat of violence, but a reference to violence. I don’t want to edge close to that line, even if it’s metaphorical, which I think it was.

    Comment by Patterico (4bda0b) — 1/6/2008 @ 9:54 pm

  44. Can’t you articulate any point without cursing, name calling or denigrating others?

    Show me where I’ve cursed anywhere on this thread, I’ve alreasdy explained the “name-calling” and I didn’t “denigrate” anyone here. Actions yes, but not people. I’ve only been warned once by Patterico on this site, for repeatedly calling someone an idiot who was so obtuse that he deserved banning. That over a year ago.

    If you are going to lie and distort what I write, don’t make it so easy to refute.

    He simply cannot name a site that he claims is the paragon of good ethics and I don’t expect he will.

    most traffic, the most blogroll apprearnces, the ones that day after day deliver the goods are the ones that meet such standards

    is not a definition of the elements and standards defined earlier which is what I asked him to do.

    How about looking at my comment in context?

    The blogs on the right with the most traffic, the most blogroll apprearnces, the ones that day after day deliver the goods are the ones that meet such standards. You see, those that don’t take a beating from their peers…and comprise a “Gotcha!” moment for froth-mouthed lefties that can’t win idealogical debates with those bloggers.

    Interesting…our host (who makes the list)already has an example of what I am talking about.

    As you the list you demand, here’s a starter list, by no means complete:

    Ace of Spades
    Beldar Blog
    Betsy’s Page
    Big Lizards
    Blackfive
    Captain’s Quarters
    Day by Day
    Hugh Hewitt
    InstaPundit
    Junkyard Blog
    Little Green Footballs
    Michelle Malkin
    Power Line
    Protein Wisdom
    Sound Politics
    TigerHawk
    Tim Blair
    VodkaPundit

    He simply cannot name a site that he claims is the paragon of good ethics and I don’t expect he will.

    So VOR, how does it feeel to be wrong about me yet again? Hmn?

    Comment by Paul (dbbea6) — 1/7/2008 @ 3:49 am

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