First off: This isn't just a random, isolated matter involving an obscure Canadian columnist, nor is it a grudge match because I happen to be the person he misquoted. It addresses the larger issue of Those Who Get It vs. Those Who Don't.
The "It" in question is, How New Media Is The Same As Old Media In All The Important, Fundamental Ways. Jack Kapica from the Globe & Mail thinks that new media is a no-holds-barred plaything to be capriciously and wantoly used by careless and unqualified practitioners, and if they can do it, well la-di-da, then so can he.The backstory to all this is here, but essentially, Kapica covered a panel I was on at last week's Mesh Conference in Toronto, and completely misrepresented/misquoted/misattributed/made up comments from myself and fellow panelists, asserting that "one theme that ran through this fear-based analysis was that bloggers can, in fact, easily replace news organizations, ousting professional news reporters with freelance amateurs and opinion-mongers." Er, no. That was not a theme, and was never explicitly or even implicitly asserted. Yet after I and others posted a comment disputingthe accuracy of his claims and correcting the record, here (finally, five days later) was his response:
I'm a little surprised about the anger I see in the letters complaining about my blog. A blog is a place for opinion, a point of view, and I'm sure people like those writing their comments to me would be among the first to defend that principle. Judging by the language of the responses I got it more resembles a flame war; I wonder why anyone would want to get involved in something like that.
And holding me to standards of truthfulness so dramatically at odds with those that are tolerated in someone like Michael Arrington smacks of a double standard.
This is the kind of response that makes me want to bonk my head against the wall repeatedly. Sure, a blog is a place for opinion — or reporting, or celebrity gossip or media analysis or Star Trek fan fiction or whatever. A blog is a platform, like print, like TV, like radio. Just one other way of getting information out there. That does not mean that whay you put out there does not have to be accurate. In fact, it does. And if you're the Globe & Mail — or any other publication worth its salt — you should be demanding the same exacting standards of accuracy on the most under-trafficked blog post as you are for your front page. And if you do not, then do not be surprised when readers complain.
Kapica's response post reads half-defensively, half-cluelessly, as he justifies his original post without ever directly addressing the complaints about it: Fundamental accuracy. He dismisses Jay Rosen's request for attribution on certain points, because Rosen wasn't there — which is exactly the point. (In fact, this whole thing was kicked off by Rosen, for whom alarm bells went off seeing sweeping statements made about unattributed comments; his radar was dead on.)
Okay, this post has crossed into the realm of the wonky, but that''s okay, even necessary — because if people are permitted to post inaccuracies willy-nilly with no fallout, then what kind of standard is that? It's not fun having to go through and clean up the china shop after the bull has breezed through — Media Matters and CJR and Jay Rosen, hats off to you — but the only way to enforce journalistic accountability is to hold journalists accountable. That applies to the New York Times and Gawker and Jossip and Newsweek and Men's Fitness and FoxNews (cough Conyers/Jefferson cough), to the Huffington Post and the Globe & Mail, and to globeandmail.com, to bloggers and anchors and ink-stained wretches. It's called taking responsibility, and — new media or old — it's not an option.
In other news, the Webbys were last night. Apparently this Internet thing is catching on.
The new New Journalism beats up on the old [GlobeAndMail.com]
Mesh Conference Redux [GlobeAndMail.com]
Meshfight! Meta-Battle Between New Media And Old Media Over Panel About New Media vs. Old Media [ETP]