Friday, December 12, 2008

Silverstein needs to work on his "notepad level"

I really hate it when, journalists gratuitously editorialize in supposed "news" articles. Here's an example from this morning's Journal Sentinel:

Tauscher might not return next season because his contract will expire and general manager Ted Thompson generally doesn't invest in aging veterans, no matter how important their leadership and presence is on the field and in the locker room.

Set aside whether the first half of the statement is correct. But for the record, Thompson extended Al Harris at the age of 32, and signed Donald Driver at the age of 31, as just two counterexamples. (Tauscher, for the record, is 31 this year).

There are only two ways that bold part can be objectively true: (1) Thompson has gone on record to say "I don't care about leadership and locker room presence," or (2) there exists some metric to measure "leadership and locker room presence." If it is the former, Silverstein could have done us all a favor by---you know---quoting Thompson. If it is the later, Silverstein should have set forth his methodology so his readers determine whether it withstands any scrutiny.

I strongly suspect these are just Silverstein's "feelings." Which is cool. But he should work for a feelingspaper rather than a newspaper.

Reason Magazine had a great interview with Craig Newmark (the "craigslist guy"). (It's in the print version, but I can't find it online yet.) Craigslist has been somewhat villainized by newspapers for supposedly siphoning off classified revenues. However, in the interview, Newmark comes across as a staunch defender of traditional media. His overall point was that traditional media has the resources to do the fact checking that "New Media" does not. And that is what they should focus on. I think he is on to something.

That's what makes shoddy journalism that much more frustrating. Rather then play to their strengths, "journalists" are impersonating bloggers. Silverstein: leave the blogging to those unqualified to do your job. I don't need you to weave your narrative into each story. Neutrality and accuracy are the fundamentals of journalism. Now go out there and write with good "notepad level."

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