Saturday, July 23, 2005



An unnamed person I know, who earns his living as a journalist and knows I blog, forwarded this article to me. It describes the hellacious chain of events unfolding at a publication whose editors and reporters have decided that their personal blogs are the perfect forum for making fun of co-workers, employees, and their employers.

Experts who are not involved with the cases have described what has been said as being defamation of character and legally actionable (although nobody seems to be ready to sue just yet).

The first, quick thing I should point out to my four readers (there are 8 million bloggers and 32 million blog readers; one of the four of you should be able to do the math) is that if you're blogging, you have to treat what you're publishing as if it were available to the general public... which it is. For instance, I am keenly aware that the forces of evil -- a.k.a. the current presidential administration -- have legions of workers and volunteers scanning the ether looking for any perceived slight that can be described as un-American or a terrorist threat. I fully expect to hear from whichever puppet is now in charge of the Homeland Security Administration one day, telling me that my freedom of speech will be terminated to protect my American way of life.

That (snidely) said, the bigger issue here is an even bigger problem I have with all these young whippersnappers who are now in middle management in the work force: They seem to have obtained their jobs without the actual brains and basics required generations ago. What on earth would possess someone working in the media to publish any sort of character assassination, or unhappiness at work, or sexual history -- or anything -- on the web. Don't they know that someone at their company is probably paid to Google all of their reporters, and that person will most certainly find all relevant blogs? Do they not understand the power of the media, the power of which has employed them? Do they tug on Superman's cape? Spit into the wind? Pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger?

(Do they understand the above literary reference?)

It's depressing enough when I read newspaper articles that describe the 1965 Milwaukee major league baseball franchise as the Brewers (it was the Braves), or that indicate no knowledge of the difference between "its" and "it's," or publish the first name of the president who succeeded Lincoln as "Lyndon" Johnson. It's bad enough that year after year we learn how many reporters resort to making up stories, facts, or sources. But knowing that these poor hires now go home and commit libel -- well, jiminy.

For a commentary on a reporter who does think, check out uniongrrl's post on Helen Thomas.

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