An aside on the quality of "Blogolism"

Just when you think that the paradigm has shifted, you find out that it has fallen flat on its face.

Today, a report comes out of the Associated Press about how a Irish sociology student tested the journalistic integrity of traditional journalism, the blogosphere, and Wikipedia.  Guess what?  Journalism and blogger failed and Wikipedia passed.

Shane Fitzgerald posted phony quote on Wikipedia, attributed the the recently departed French composer Maurice Jarre on March 28.  The fiction went almost directly to blogs around the world and several newspaper websites.

The quote had no form of verification on Wikipedia, which is always a red flag, but the bloggers leaned on their belief that if it is on the web it must be true and lifted the "quote" directly.  In fact, it is still floating around the world as being true, even after being expunged from Wikipedia.

Only The Guardian in the UK has owned up to the research error, while others are blaming Fitzgerald.   Sorry, checking your sources is the first rule of journalism.  If you don't do at least that, you can't call what you do journalism -- unless you own up to the mistake, so kudos to The Guardian (one of my favorite publications when I go to the homeland).

Wikipedia spokesman Jay Walsh said it was "distressing so see how quickly journalists would descend on that information without double-checking it.  We always tell people: If you see that quote on Wikipedia, find it somewhere else too."


My son is in his first year of college and recently finished his first college paper.  He started with Wikipedia for his research, but did his own verification of what was found there.  He did that because he thought it was common sense.  He didn't have to take a journalism class to check his references.  To him it was common sense.  That a 19 year old can figure that out and a bunch of bloggers couldn't amazes me.  It flabbergasts me that journalists wouldn't do it out of habit.


The point I'm making here is that we all seem to be absolutely infatuated by the concept of citizen journalism and getting ALL OUR NEWS FROM THE INTERNET.  It's not as good as what REAL journalism is supposed to be.  Like oatmeal, instant isn't as good as the stuff that takes time and effort.


You might wonder what the fake quote was.  Well, look it up.  It isn't hard to find.  What I will say is I have long admired Jarre's work.  He wrote the score for one of my favorite movies, Lawrence of Arabia, as well as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Zefferelli's Jesus of Nazareth, and Dead Poet's Society.  The dude has serious chops.