Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Some Thoughts on Blogging and the Haaretz Brouhaha

Cecile Surasky's Muzzlewatch has published a letter by Haaretz's editor Dov Alfon responding to concerns over the recent changes at Haaretz. That site also has letters from Amira Hass and Dorothy Naor (the latter was the basis of my post from yesterday, since I didn't know whether Dorothy wanted to go public). I would love to hear a statement from Meron Rapoport but I don't want to bother somebody who was fired. I am a blogger, not a journalist.

Alfon speculated that the rumors about Haaretz had originated from extreme rightwing circles. Oy, so now he has outed me!

What does this mean? Within a week, a casual conversation between an activist and me starts a mini-brouhaha that ends with the major players making statements. That's the power of the web. (The threat of cancelling subscriptions to Haaretz did not hurt either.)

That gives my ego a rush, but it also makes me think of issues like...blogger responsibility.

Last week I heard a rumor and posted it. Journalists don't publish rumors (well, they do, but they are not supposed to.) They do fact checking. They get confirmations before they go public. That's journalistic ethics.

But bloggers aren't journalists. Sure, they shouldn't publish rumors that will hurt private individuals and hide behind some sort of freedom of blogging. But the point of my posting a rumor was, as I made clear in my original post, to try to clarify things. Some times attempts are made to verify a story before posting it. Some times it is not possible for a blogger.

The risk is, of course, that people will remember the rumor and not get the clarification. Well, that's a risk. But it seems to me that people know not to take blogger news as the final word. We are there to get things out in the world.

Frankly, I am happy that the editor of Haaretz got five emails on a single day querying him about what was going on at the paper. I know that if I had sent him an email identifying myself as a pseudononymous blogger, I would have waited a long time for a response.

Still, I would like to assure my readers that the bloggers I am friendly with (and whom I have never met in person) are responsible folks who do their best to get things right, and who will retract when they haven't.

PS. Coincidentally, I renewed my subscription to Haaretz yesterday.

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