No Big Deal? Really?

The main stream media is justly concerned about maintaining its position in a world that increasingly relies on blogs and other online sources for news. So I’m not completely sure how to react to this piece from Salon about blogger Barry Ritholtz’s post this Sunday stating that Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, was about to be indicted. Turns out the “source” for Ritholtz’s report was a guy who Ritholtz ran into in a Barbados airport. That’s it. And Ritholtz has since commented that if the report is not true “it’s no big deal.” Um, I know I am on the low end of significant bloggers and I don’t get to travel to Barbados in February. But I think it’s a pretty big deal to publish an accusation like that based on an unverified tip from a stranger in an airport. And by pretty big deal, I don’t mean that it’s good. It’s not good for other bloggers who want to be taken seriously. If people conclude that Ritholtz’s standard is standard operating procedure for all bloggers, why would they pay attention to any blogger? And it’s not good for main stream journalists. There are issues out there about whether bloggers should be able to have the access to events that main stream journalists enjoy, and whether bloggers can protect the identities of confidential sources. Some folks take the position that you can’t provide the main stream media those rights without providing them to bloggers. And a logical end to that argument is that since bloggers shouldn’t have those rights, main stream journalists can’t have them either. The more bloggers deviate from professional standards, the more they help make that argument. So it’s a big deal. Really. And if any reader would like to fund a trip for me to Barbados to research this issue in a bit more depth, feel free to call.