From the category archives:

Braided Journalism

As the New York Times, followed by just about everyone else is reporting this morning, the Fake Steve Jobs is in fact Dan Lyons, who wrote a notorious cover article in Forbes Magazine likening bloggers to lynch mobs and placing a significant nail into the coffin of Forbes as a credible news magazine.

It turns out that Lyons is going to write a book on his experience. I imagine it will go down on the great annals of book-writing history with Jason Blair’s "Burning down my Master’s House," which explained how a reporter lied and plagiarized during his tenure at the New York Times, or maybe it should be likened to Clifford Irving’s hoax biography of Howard Hughes.

Anyone who wants to write a best-seller knows that controversy sells and the more outrageous it is, the more it sells.  Throw in a famous person’s name, like Steve Jobs, and it sells even more. Lyons will get his time on the talk shows for a while before he’ll fall into the oblivion he so rightly deserves or so I would like to think.

Lyons, I am sure, will attempt to debunk blogging.  In fact, he is more likely to debunk himself by missing a key point to why blogging is working so well.  It is transparent. Lyons is not.

Like Blair and Irving, he does have a contrivance going.  I hope he enjoys his time strutting and fretting on the stage before he and his book become yesterday’s news.

Terry Heaton, the Digital Journalist, has a wonderful, deep-thinking and lengthy column about traditional and new news coverage, about media and the divisions in society, about traditional media and their selections of topics as news,about callous celebrity interviewers who only stick to the script. It’s also about why prominent people use social media to speak for themselves rather than through the jaded and selfish filters of traditional media.

For those of you suffering from Twitter-inseminated short attention span, tak a pill or something.  Shttp://digitaljournalist.org/issue0708/heaton0708.htmlpend 15 minutes reading the entire column. It’s worth your time.

For those of you who cannot, here’s a brief sample:

"And that’s precisely the point for Mr. Wise and for all of us in the
world of news. It isn’t about the story; it’s about us and our careers
and our fame and our fortune. It’s about furthering the establishment,
and this is precisely why people are taking things into their own
hands. The audience is dissatisfied, but we are unable to turn away
from fostering that dissatisfaction.

The personal media revolution and its inexpensive tools are enabling
people to cover what’s important to them for themselves. Another
significant event the last week in June should give everybody in the
all-things-to-everybody crowd a severe case of the spine chills."

I don’t know much about Terry, or about this online publication. You can’t subscribe to it. There’s a neat little (c) at the bottom of his column. But, as I’ve said before, it’s not the medium that matters, it’s the message, and his is both accurate and articulate in its delivery.

 

There is a simple reason why journalists should be protected from reveal their sources, even when those sources connect with criminal investigations. If they cannot protect their sources, then the public will only have access to official accounts of what has happened. People will be afraid to leak ugly and important truths to the press for fear of being outed or incarcerated.

If you do not see that this has everything to do with free speech, then I don’t know how to say it better. This has to do with traditional v. citizen journalism.  Josh Wolf, a Bay Area video blogger recently set a record for being incarcerated longer than anyone else for not revealing sources.  But the number of regular journalists in this country who have been thrown in the slammer–or were threatened with it, has risen dramatically over the past six years.

It’s not about the press.  It’s not about criminal prosecution. It has to do with the protections of a free society and allowing the words of people in power to be challenged.

I say all this because the Free Flow of Information Act is being reintroduced to Congress Wednesday afternoon and it needs to be supported.  The last time around, Congress had a different mix and the public seemed not to care.

One of the organizations trying to inform people and rally support is the Society of Professional Journalists , which provides extensive information on shield laws and the current situation at its site. SPJ’s federal shield law page has the executive summary.

If you are the type who writes your Congressperson, this would be a good time to do so.

Bruno Giussani has a fine essay that expands on some thoughts by Global Voices pioneer Ethan Zuckerman, one of my favorite thinkers who said "Don’t speak. Point," meaning that the days of journalists and
editors speaking on behalf of people or speaking to people are
over.

Now, the objective is to point to people and get out of the way.

It’s a great piece, offering some fresh insights and vision on an overworked subject. Go read it.

[NOTE: This piece has been reedited in response to Bruno's comment below. I had attributed his words and thoughts to Zuckerman.  Thanks for setting it straight, Bruno.]