Tech Crunch and the Gawker empire have a pretty cynical view of journalism. Damon Darlin reports on the sites that promulgated the Apple is about to purchase Twitter rumor, and other allegations that later turned out to be false.
A few days later, Mr. Lam1 could claim vindication when Apple announced that Mr. Jobs was taking a leave of absence because of his health. To this day, it is unclear how much his health figured in Apple’s decision to withdraw from the MacWorld show. Nevertheless, Nick Denton, Mr. Lam’s boss and the founder of the Gawker blog network, crowed, “This is why access is overrated.”
Mr. Lam says it taught him a lesson. “If we don’t have rumors, what do we have as journalists?” he asks. “You have press releases. So maybe there is some honor in printing rumors.”
[Click to read more: Ping – Get the Tech Scuttlebutt! It Might Even Be True – NYTimes.com]
Really? These are the only two choices? Reprinting rumors or reprinting press releases? What about doing a little research of your own? What about fact-checking? Making some inquiries into interested parties? Even using critical thinking? The yellow journalism aspirations of both Tech Crunch and Gizmodo are why those web sites are visits of last resort: I don’t trust much of what I read there, so why waste my time rolling my eyes reading thinly-sourced rumors?
There’s even the time tested yet still reprehensible journalistic technique of “he said, she said”, as throughly and thoughtfully explained by Jay Rose:
Quick definition: “He said, she said” journalism means…
There’s a public dispute.
The dispute makes news.
No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story, even though they are in some sense the reason for the story. (Under the “conflict makes news” test.)
The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the report declines to make use of them.
The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes
[Click to continue reading the discussion of PressThink: He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User ]
At least this shortcut forces the reporter to attempt to include multiple points of view, and not just rely upon rumor.Footnotes:
- Brian Lam built Gizmodo, owned by Gawker [↩]