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Duke: The race for the truth

Posted: March 13, 2014 - 5:58pm

There has always been news and there will always be news. Newspapers? Well, we’ll have to see about that, but news and the conveyance of some sort will always be around, and the latest of these is coming from the Voldemort of traditional journalists: the blogger.

The blogger doesn’t have to double-source his facts. The blogger doesn’t have to remain objective. The blogger can even be wrong from time to time. The blogger bats for average. The newspaper strives for perfection.

But here’s the thing, the blogger usually gets the story out first.

Can you imagine what the world would be like for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein if they had to battle an Internet-age dirt-scooper who always talked to Deep Throat 10 minutes before they did? That’s really what we deal with nowadays.

Bloggers — and there are some very good ones out there — get to pick and choose the news they cover. Many of them have an agenda and a place at one side of the aisle or the other. If they are a liberal site, they may turn their noses up at Martha Shoffner news. If they are conservative, Mark Darr news will not interest them. There seem to be a growing number of knuckleheads in both parties, so it is hard to keep all of those plates spinning, and a newspaper needs to address it all.

We try to address it when it is verified. We try to address it when it is confirmed with sources who will go on the record. Many bloggers don’t have to do that or do not want to do that. It doesn’t mean their stories are wrong, just not completely vetted.

You’d actually be surprised at what we know inside the newsroom walls. We talk about things that never make it to print, usually because it cannot be confirmed or because it may not be suitable for publication. But rest assured that some of these elected officials, business leaders and community pillars are not always doing the right thing. We know it.

Which brings me to the saga of Circuit Judge Mike Maggio and the funds donated to his campaign by a prior defendant. Our reporter, Courtney Spradlin, had been dealing with the possibility of a connection since the negligence trial of a Greenbrier nursing home last year. As she was writing her story, a blog post emerged with some of the same information. She continued, and we posted our story online later that evening.

Then this blogger made insinuations through social media that we stole his information for our own purposes. When he found out that his source was our source and had been speaking with Spradlin independently for quite some time, he didn’t back down.

Let’s get a couple things straight: this blogger has been doing some excellent work, and on a previous story, we credited his site. But in this case, Spradlin and the rest of our news team worked (and are continuing to work) independent of any work from any other sites. Other reporters at other publications are as well. The viewing of those sites is usually done after the work here is completed.

A community newspaper is placed in a difficult position when it comes to investigative reporting. We want to dig up dirt to expose those who may not be operating in the community’s best interest. But we also want to let you know when your kids make the honor roll. We also want to give you the list of events happening in Simon Park. We want to give you the happy along with the hard hitting.

Unlike a blogger, we have to be completely sure we can back up everything before we release it. It makes our jobs tougher because, much like a blog site, people will believe the first thing they see. If a blogger accuses us of piggy-backing on his story, it may not matter what the truth is afterwards. Many will choose to just believe the first thing they hear.

There is talk here about creating a site simply to address whispers and rumors and other rumblings. Maybe if we chose to talk about the Conway Christmas Tree there in August, more people would have paid attention. We did, in fact, report on the controversial tree last summer, but no one seemed to care. Only after a blogger wagged his finger did people accuse us of not reporting it diligently. If a Cabin-centric blog site does happen, be assured that we will always make sure everything is above board.

What we strive for in these news stories is to reach the truth. It should never be a race for the truth, because the truth will stay there no matter who gets there first.

(Ricky Duke is the editor of the Log Cabin Democrat. He can be reached at ricky.duke@thecabin.net)

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reader
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reader 03/14/14 - 08:26 am
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Great points Richard

I want the bloggers and the LCD to work together to bring truth to light. I see both as an asset, especially in the face of 'Citizens United' (a misnomer)

Igor Rabinowitz
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Igor Rabinowitz 03/14/14 - 08:53 am
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Stated elsewhere

But the LCD's/Spradlin's reporting followed journalist standards not just in confirmation, but in writing style. The blogger site's piece was simply poorly written. If the item had only appeared there it would not have received as much notice: It was hard to read and the point was buried in the word-confusion.

I like blog culture and like what it's doing for information dissemination, removing corporate elites from controlling information flow. The problem, however, is so many bloggers, acting as new-age journalists, go running through the door with an agenda, first, and file froth-flecked copy "proving" X is a Y and therefore Z -- the distance between editorial and news being lost in the muddled soup of passion.

Which is to say: Everybody wants to be a journalist, but nobody wants to practice journalism.

And the problem here is if you're blogging you're lumped into the same pile as the "MORE POVE OF TEH SUK" so-called reporting. Hence the elites are going to use this to "prove" they are the true heads of information dissemination -- ignoring the profit-taking incentives implied.

Wait, it gets worse: So much investment, honest cash-in-a-bag investment, has been made in the "liberal media" trope that true believers are trained not to believe the (corporate owned) liberal media, and they then proceed to the blog, and the Matt Drudge clones become the source of (what is called) news -- and we all get stupider.

This is why I'm prepared to sell out. Listen, I'll re-edit this post as long as I get some speaking fees and a ride in the corporate jet to a weekend resort to give my speech (and a massage had better be comped, just sayin'). I have no integrity, I simply want rich people to like me and throw money at me. Granted, I'll be like a dog under the table collecting scraps, but boys, them's good scraps and I'm tired of being broke.

So, please, the system's broken and I can make a solid case for pretty much anything. Somebody pay me off -- it's all the rage round these parts anyway.

reader
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reader 03/14/14 - 10:11 am
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You sound similar to Chris Christie

You should have quoted his

"I’m a trained lawyer! You know what that means? I could make up an answer at any time that sounds convincing!”

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