Mary Lahammer and Bob Collins’ Disappearing Tweets

Update: Bob Collins has posted an explanation for what happened to his account in the comments here.

Looks like some local media folks may have been a bit too social on Twitter yesterday regarding the future of TheUptake at the state capitol based on the scrubbing of Tweets I’m seeing today.

For example, TPT’s Mary Lahammer has scrubbed out recent mentions of The Uptake from her Twitter account, including a few I was able to find elsewhere:

Mary Lahammer's Disappearing TheUptake Tweets

and:

Mary Lahammer's Disappearing TheUptake Tweets

Did word come down from above that you shouldn’t talk publicly about efforts to kick your scrappy competitors out of the local press pool?

And what happened to MPR’s Bob Collins? That guy has an opinion on everything, including quite a few yesterday about TheUptake that have now disappeared after Bob apparently quit Twitter:

Bob Collin's Missing Twitter Account

Here are Bob Collins’ tweets from yesterday where he was discussing TheUptake and related topics:

Bob Collins' Missing TheUptake Tweets

Bob Collins' Missing TheUptake Tweets

Bob Collins' Missing TheUptake Tweets

Bob Collins' Missing TheUptake Tweets

It looks like the first rule of fighting The Uptake is don’t talk about The Uptake.

66 thoughts on “Mary Lahammer and Bob Collins’ Disappearing Tweets”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mary Lahammer and Bob Collins’ Disappearing Tweets | The Deets -- Topsy.com
  2. Matt has it on the head. All it takes is ONE person to subscribe to their twitter stream in an rss reader and there’s nothing you can do to retract statements.

  3. Second rule of the internet…old media exposes a lack of their own intergrity and ability to stand behind or apologize for their own words and actions.

    Third rule of the internet…we grow better when we do.

  4. Gah. I just hate it when people write a lede sentence with a conclusion and then proceed to ask questions about the conclusion in the sentence.

    I have three Twitter accounts and it’s no secret that I’ve never subscribed to the theory of most media people that Twitter is simply another distribution platform. So I write stuff that’s from *me* and I’ve made that clear from day one — in fact I write a disclaimer which I post once a week.

    Although bcollinsmn was *my* Twitter account, it was set up on the bcollins@mpr.org mail system, fed News Cut RSS into it and used an account name that was the name by which I’m associated with at MPR. People can’t make the distinction between what I do for a living and my account.

    So MPR-material w.r.t. News Cut is at @newscut, and any non-MPR (and usually non-news, I mostly tweet about aviation) is at my other Twitter account.

    As for the Uptake vs. TPT/PB, you’ve wasted an awfully good conspiracy theory and a lot of blog space for nothing. I’ve received no pushback for suggesting that objectivity and fairness are not the same thing. I wasn’t born yesterday and I know that you can’t take comments back online and I saw no reason why I would want to.

    There is simply no connection between The Uptake – MSM feud and me moving my Twitter personal life to another location (where, actually, it already lived)

    As for this:

    //Second rule of the internet…old media exposes a lack of their own intergrity and ability to stand behind or apologize for their own words and actions.

    I’ll give you a better rule. Check your facts. Unwittingly, perhaps, you’ve highlighted a major concern OLD media has about NEW media — that it’s far too willing to put a torch to someone’s reputation, and have only a passing relationship with facts and far too shy to pick up the phone and ask a question or too.

    You can do better. You should do better. You must do better.

  5. Bob, thanks for the comment. Sorry for lumping you in with Lahammer. I updated the beginning of this post with a link to your comment.

    As I understand your comment, you decided that it wasn’t clear to people following your @bcollinsmn account that your opinions were your own and not associated with your employer, so shut down that account without warning (as far as I can tell, you didn’t tell people you were killing off that account). That behavior seems rash enough to me to jump to conclusions. I can’t imagine a radio station changing their location on the dial without warning their thousands of listeners that they’re moving, so they have a chance to update their presets. Perhaps there is a lesson from old media that would apply to new media here?

    As of this writing, you have 100 followers on your @NewsCut twitter account, so it looks like thousands didn’t get the memo.

  6. I think it’s silly when people announce they’re going to do stuff on their Twitter accounts, like it’s the digital TV conversion. It seems so self important to me. Like when people announce they’re unfollowing someone. Just shut up and do it. It’s just Twitter, for God’s sake.

    True, maybe thousands didn’t get the memo but, again that’s just me. I don’t think they’re missing much and those who think they are will certainly be able to find it eventually.

    It would also be counterproductive to tell people where they can find my “personal tweets”. If the tweets are interesting, people will find them, if they’re not, they won’t.

    Pretty much the same as non-journos on Twitter. Which is the point.

  7. Bob was always pretty quick to say that his Twitter didn’t represent the views of his employer (his bio line even said as much), so what changed all of a sudden? I think the deletions were probably prompted by their employers telling them to shut up about that stuff in public.

  8. You’ve answered your own question, Julie. No matter how many facts you present to people, they’ll make up their own to fit their already-held beliefs.

  9. Bob, it does look strange that you shut down your account 31 minutes after retweeting Jason DeRusha’s criticism of TheUptake critics. And, that your first post @bcollinsmn tweet says that you ditched that account so you could tweet “under the corporate radar“.

  10. Again, I don’t know how to respond here. The assertion seems to be that MPR has somehow joined in the TPT/Rochester Post Bulletin nonsense in which just breathing the same air as The Uptake somehow taints them in the eyes of the free world. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that. Frankly, I don’t MPR gives a damn one way or the other. There are many things that MPR might not appreciate me doing over the years, but pointing out the difference between objectivity and fairness and pointing out that the assertion of objectivity is the biggest fraud perpetrated by some in mainstream media isn’t one of them as far as I know and I’ve said that, perhaps, a hundred times going back many years.

    Does the time looking funny? I don’t know. At 6:22 p.m., from the comfort of my own home, I posted essentially the same thing — and more — on Chuckumentary’s Facebook page.

    The story is simply as I stated it; it’s not feasible — at least for me — to have one account try to be two things, no matter how hard I tried to point out that @bcollinsmn was my personal account, didn’t belong to MPR and didn’t — or shouldn’t — reflect on MPR, especially since I tweeted on company time.

    Having @newscut screams “THIS IS MPR ME” and having another account whispers “this is me.”

    Why were the tweets deleted? Because the account was deleted. I didn’t need it anymore, and I was never going to use it again. I also deleted my @MPR_debates Twitter account at the same time.

    There’s nothing to see here. Go back to your homes.

  11. Pingback: Links for 3.28.10: 48 Tips for Better Abs and more delicious forelocks « the listenerd
  12. What bothers me is this pretense, this carryover of ‘old media’ think where you can maintain of two lives separate and distinct online. That some off-the-record version exists online…good luck with that. Just ask dozens of politicians the past decade how consistently effective that works. That is the source of your problem when you are a public figure, because that is not the way it works anymore, especially in new social media world.

    Two things you can learn from this–
    (1) your online life IS your life to the rest of us, and
    (2) the vast majority of us are not sheep or wingnuts and if you trust us with both the good and bad days, we will love you for the good and forgive you for the bad.

    You are who you are and even if MPR doesn’t get it, we do–another thing we get is that anytime someone thinks you need to somehow hide part of you, this is never good. NEVER. That is not to say when you eff up, you are going to get a clean pass; but the ‘coverup’ will always damage the reputation worse than the ‘crime’. ALWAYS.

    And here is something else–that ‘get the facts’ crack…is bullshit. No one gets all the facts on issues–EVER. Historians are still waiting for ‘facts’ to be released from the vaults after decades of FOIA…so new media gets that, and reports what it knows KNOWING it will need updating later as facts are revealed. AND guess what tends to get facts released more effectively–these early reports without all the facts. Deal with it…online people know how to, and if you would get that, you would be a better reporter, not worse.

  13. //And here is something else–that ‘get the facts’ crack…is bullshit. No one gets all the facts on issues–EVER.

    Not in this context it’s not. Let me rephrase, though, to be more clear.

    Don’t guess and present something as likely fact. Check. Ask, Call. Find out as much as you can, and then write what you know. That’s not asking too much, really.

    //Deal with it…online people know how to, and if you would get that, you would be a better reporter, not worse.

    No offense, but I’ve been online in various social media since 1986, #1. #2, I’m not a reporter.

  14. My question “why were the tweets deleted,” was genuine, though clueless. I didn’t realize tweets disappear from everywhere when an account is deleted. I can be slow on the uptake. (no pun intended).

  15. //Old media confuses access and opportunity with professionalism and intelligence…new media does not.

    To bring this back to The Uptake situation. I think part of the problem is the false sense of ethics that old media preserved as an absolute, based on a misinterpretation of much of Edward R. Murrow’s work. As I pointed out previously, you’ll never hear “old media” these days deliver a soliloquy like Murrow did to topple McCarthy.

    They embrace a code of ethics that Murrow couldn’t even meet.

    But that doesn’t mean “new media” gets it right, either. It embraces a “situational” code of ethics.

    So one is too rigid, one is too flexible.

    Somewhere in the middle is where the best people in both new and old media live.

  16. Oh, please. Seriously — “old media be like this, new media be like that” is a pretty sad construct, but this is just pathetic.

    When you write something as conjecture (a.k.a., bullshit) on your blog and promote it via Twitter to drive traffic — that’s not the new media journalism paradigm whatever. It’s just damn sloppy. Ed didn’t know if MPR came down and muzzled Bob, but it didn’t stop him from posting about it and making assumptions.

    Bob can decide to whatever he damn well pleases with his personal Twitter accounts. Sure, it would have been nice for him to point us where to find him — I actually enjoy hearing everything he has to say, even when he is tweeting about the Cleveland Indians — but he doesn’t owe anyone anything.

    But as a writer, Ed owed him a call or an email *before* dancing around this faux-controversy of people in back rooms in St. Paul fretting about how it might look if one of their employees said something sensible.

  17. Thanks, Bob Collins, I think you nailed it.
    The complaints TPT and the Post-Bulletin are raising about The Uptake are all too similar to the way the so-called mainstream media sought to exclude urban neighborhood and ethnic community newspapers from using the City Hall/courthouse press rooms, participating in press conferences, getting credentials, etc. It’s the same fight we neighborhood newsies have waged since most of the papers began in the 1970s and 1980s. I’ve dealt with it for years as a St. Paul community journalist and as an editor/writer for Access Press, the statewide disability newspaper.
    One of my former neighborhood newspaper colleagues used to describe it as journalism apartheid. It’s offensive and it needs to stop, period. No one died and made you people special. . . .

  18. Old media confuses access and opportunity with professionalism and intelligence…new media does not. New media is willing and able to express what they know, full well knowing it is not the whole story.

    Why would they do that? Because it makes the reader part of the story…it makes them be active and not passively accept all they read as the story. In this process, the story unfolds in front of you and not hidden behind the corporate walls or formed in back room deals.

    And being more open and honest, it makes the best obvious…and too the weak and lazy. It also exposes more quickly the back room deals and spinmeisters attempts to control the message, making it look so sad and casting a net over those control freaks who cannot accept any tarnish on their fake armor.

    On a more personal level Bob…I actually admire you for exactly this exchange, as I think it shows your courage and your fear. By contrast…where’s Mary?

  19. @Matt, I don’t believe that I suggested that Mary or Bob had direct pressure applied to them to remove tweets, but I see how one could infer that.

    Mary scrubbed tweets. I don’t know why. I dug them up because I thought it made for an interesting conversation piece.

    Bob deleted tweets. I don’t know why. I dug them up because I thought it made for an interesting conversation piece.

    Are their reasons for doing so the same? In Bob’s case, he seems to be saying that he has opinions about some things that he wanted clearly separated from an account he feels people associate with his employer.

    In Mary’s case, we don’t know. Since she only deleted her recent TheUptake related Tweets, it seems fun to speculate that she decided she wasn’t comfortable standing behind her own words in hindsight. Again, this doesn’t mean that she had direct pressure to her to delete her own words from Twitter.

  20. I care little about the deleting of tweets. My concern is any attempt to force people out of what is supposed to be public space for news media. As the definfition of media changes, the use of that press room space needs to change. . .

  21. @Ed — you’re right. You don’t know. But that didn’t stop you from writing:

    “Did word come down from above that you shouldn’t talk publicly about efforts to kick your scrappy competitors out of the local press pool? […] It looks like the first rule of fighting The Uptake is don’t talk about The Uptake.”

    It might make for a cute parlor game over a beer, but accusing people of “scrubbing” without any real evidence of anyone telling them to scrub anything isn’t reporting or even the least bit interesting. It’s misrepresenting people’s actions and words, something I think you might understand a little something about.

    I’m not against saving something online that people think can go down the Memory Hole with the delete key. . But in the case of Collins, he’s basically restated all of his opinions in his comments with his full name attached to it. He’s not kowtowing to his employer and/or was muzzled by anyone for expressing his opinion, as one might assume from your wink-wink-didja-see-this post.

  22. Mary, David and I were having a brief tweet about a blog piece Sarah J. at Politics in Minnesota had posted about The Uptake. No biggie. I’m justplainbob, for those who don’t know me. Most of you do.

  23. @Matt, I think you’re holding me to a higher bar than I hold myself. I’m comfortable with speculating about the meaning of a few nuggets of information on my personal blog. Thinking out loud is what I do here. Sometimes it may resemble journalism. Sometimes it’s pictures of toilet paper. Sometimes it’s speculating on things I find interesting.

    That being said, as you may have noticed, I did update the very first paragraph of this post with a link to new information from Bob where he explains why he shut down his most popular Twitter account without warning while mentioning on one of his less popular accounts that he wanted to tweet under the corporate radar. Those actions that are ripe for speculation in my book.

    Hand-wringing isn’t my strength.

  24. Before posting screenshots of deleted tweets, call to confirm with at least one reliable source.

    If you are going to report a Facebook profile picture change, you need an affidavit from two US citizens swearing that the person in the new picture is the owner of the profile. (See appendix for Celebrity Lookalike Week guidelines.)

    In general, it is recommended that one wait at least a week to leave a reply comment on a YouTube video. (This is not a neo-journalistic standard, just a commonsense “cooling off period.” YouTube comments can get heated.)

  25. @Ed: I’m just saying you can’t have it both ways. You can’t snort and laugh about how Old Media doesn’t get it and how this is the New Media way where everyone lives in public and everything is available for scrutiny, and then say “oh I’m just a personal blog you can’t hold me accountable for what I alluded to and oh wait oops i’m going to allude to again wink-wink”.

    Adding a sentence doesn’t change what you’ve wrote, and it doesn’t change your general attitude about you accepting running public people’s credibility through the wringer. Why let facts get in the way of a good blog post/media organization bashing?

    Maybe you could get acquainted with the good ol’ tag and actually change your tone about story instead of just leaving a fabricated piece of dirty laundry around, stinking up the place?

  26. @Matt, again, you’re holding me a higher bar than I set for myself.

    Perhaps I should get more mainstream media in my approach to things by saying “Some people are saying that Bob Collins deleted his twitter account under pressure from Minnesota Public Radio. Bob Collins was unavailable to comment at this time.” which is something I don’t believe, but is something I hear from “news” services. Would that be more balanced? Is it somehow worse if I’m willing to state my own opinion on my own blog?

    I try to make an effort to provide links, quotes, graphs, photos, videos, etc., of what I’m talking about, together with my own opinions. If I get something wrong, people call call BS on me. I’m comfortable with that.

    If speculating on my personal blog about why Bob Collins deleted his @bcollinsmn Twitter account in light of recent events (twittering about The Uptake, mentioning that he wanted to be more under the corporate radar) was wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  27. It’s really weird to watch people I’ve never met go at it over whether I’ve been unjustly harmed. Hey, I’ll live. I killed Bob Hope 10 years too soon on the MPR banner once. Who hasn’t been there?

    I take Ed’s comments in the spirit in which they’re given and urge others to do the same. I do find the people who’ve retreated the original assertion SINCE to be particularly odious, but I found most of them odious before Friday, too.

  28. @Ed — Mockery gets you no where. “News” services don’t report like that. No one said anything about Bob deleting his Twitter account before you did. The comments suggesting that he bent to MPR pressure are from your blog and your commenters. You didn’t say: hey, why did Bob delete his Twitter account? Especially after he wrote about the UpTake, an organization I care about? Maybe I’ll ask him. Instead, you just assumed that it must have been pressure from above because he tweets “under the radar” (aka on his personal time) and ran with it. Bob made a personal decision and instead of it just being that, it became a blog post on the Deets crowing about how the Powers That Be must have not liked one of their minions even mentioning the UpTake.

    If you don’t want to hold yourself to a standard of not writing things that are blatantly false, not making up conjecture about how MPR’s bosses feel about personal comments from employees, not giving even a cursory check for information before writing and tweeting about it, then I guess I am holding you up to a standard that you don’t live up to.

    After thinking about all of this, I realize this isn’t even about Bob (don’t know the guy), Ed (don’t know you), MPR (never worked for them) or anything else. It’s just something that’s really rubbed me the wrong way about the way some choose to talk about local media here. I used to work for the Strib — fun times, I guess — and just got so sick of how people claimed to know how things worked or knew that there was some nefarious decision behind any misplaced modifier or that The Man was somehow out there squashing all creativity online or that we’re all just old dinosaurs who don’t know the ways of the Web. It’s personal, to say the least, when people get to sit back on their personal blogs and Twitter accounts and over a beer at Grumpy’s about how awful and terrible local media is and how we should just close up shop and let the “real” people take over. Especially after a 10-hour day.

    It’s not because I feel like I was a chosen person by working in a newsroom — far from it. I was as much an underling as the mail guy. It’s not because I really felt like we were that awesome. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t throw my own paper down in disgust because things were mishandled or just blatantly wrong.

    It just never seemed like anyone thought that for one second there could be honest, hard-working people who are just human and thus capable of mistakes. People who actually spent their days trying to make things better from the inside, even when everyone else around them got canned and we had to pick up all the slack. We’re people, not undeserving celebrities or goose-stepping minions. We put on our pants the same way.

    All I’m saying is: think before you post. Really, I’m not asking for much. And I’ll work on a thicker skin.

  29. I’m an outsider to all of this. Allright, a complete wacko to some people. But I think I see one thing that is very consistent in this whole “debate”.

    We’re dealing with humans here, but most of the opinions I see forming seem to assume that everyone is acting as some kind of collective and/or machine.

    “Old media” people act the way they do probably because people have a tendency to form a cabal/guild/gang when they feel threatened. “New media” act they way the do probably because they have little to lose and a lot to gain by depicting themselves as David taking on Goliath.

    These are, of course, suppositions on my part. Each individual actor has their own reasons for doing whatever they do. But their jobs – where they get the food for their tables – are a pretty big deal to anyone.

    Bob is, as always, right on about the standards. Edward R Murrow was a guy, a really good guy but a human first. He’d certainly have said that, too.

    Who’s to not say that Mary Lahammer didn’t just get embarrassed by what she said – for one reason or another? A simple human emotion can explain the whole “conspiracy”. Taking the view that we’re all human, I’m gonna go there first.

    Do conspiracies happen? Sure. When a bunch of people have the same interest, they can form “conspiracies” without saying a word to each other. But that’s a very different way of looking at it than imagining a great mastermind and/or a smoke filled room. It’s just a human thang to do.

    It’s better to laugh at it than get indignant. After all, any one of us is likely to be in the same place at some point in our lives, and if you can’t laugh at your own humanity you’re missing out on a lot, IMHO.

  30. Let me take one last attempt to explain my view of this dustup–I agree with The Deets, any reader that has a bar or standard to clear is looking at a different blog. Then let me take it further–because they are not only living on a different blog, but in a different medium, and in a distant past…that actually never really existed, one where the truth easily and equitably was delivered by fair and balanced journalists.

    Tell me about how fair and balanced Bob Woodward was when he was embedded with the Bush administration and reported only enough to sell his next series of post-mortem books? And given the swirling evolution of news medium, even that (from less than 5 years ago) is a dated comparison.

    So, for all the Matts and Erics out there–look at the best of the ‘new media’, guys like Taibbi and Greenwald and Sullivan, and how many times they directly post ‘Update:’ on their postings as more information comes up in the day or two after their very professionally supremely journalistically developed story has been published…and then they will re-visit many of their key coverage topics in future postings after all the spin has died off and new ‘facts’ have taken shape, freely linking to these spin-offs and their own past posts.

    And readers dig in and get it, we are already experienced with weeding through incomplete coverage and mis-information from TV with sound bite infotainment attention spans and newspapers with their limited space and laid off reporting talent basically since our birth.

    It is only old schoolers and lazy people (readers and writers) who think they should be allowed to read or hear one story to be ‘informed’ or editors trying to control the drip of news, who get intimidated by their lack of control or reduced size of their newsy scoop who go crying to daddy to stop the merry-go-round because it is going too fast for them.

  31. @Matt, I think you’ve made the right decision to be done with this. It sounds like you’re choosing to hold me to a standard that you’ve set for me. That’s a good way to be disappointed. Your expectations are out of line with what I’m going to deliver, so it’s good to hear that you’ve realized that and plan to move on.

    I get a kick out of reading about what you think I wrote vs. what I actually wrote. Mellow out and realize that the world did not end because I shared my personal opinions on my personal blog. I’m not trying to have it both ways. You’re setting your own standards for me. Sorry for not meeting them. I don’t “think before I post” to your standards. In this case, I posted in a rush before heading out the door to watch a screening of Fritz at the Walker (very good. Check it out if you trust my opion). Good luck elsewhere.

    @Erik Hare, if I was to speculate (something I’m comfortable doing on my own blog), I’d say that Mary likely deleted her Uptake related tweets without being asked to after coming to the realization that it may be bad for her to talk publicly about that topic. Pressure doesn’t have to be direct to get the job done.

    @The Other Mike, I don’t expect to get everything right and expect to be corrected from time to time. In this case, I think I was partially clarified. I realize that there are tens of billions of pages on the web only one click away from what you’re reading right now, so I try to provide some value.

  32. This is all extreamly entertaining and everything, but forget about Bob and Mary, they have stable jobs. What is going to happen to the Uptake and what can we do about it?
    Ideas? -Matt (This is Matt #1 in order of comments.)

  33. @Matt #1, I can’t see why the capitol would have an issue with The Uptake based on what I know about what you do. Does a guy in Rochester or someone from TPT’s opinion about how news should be covered in 2010 matter? I’d hope not.

  34. Hi Ed… needed to have an outlet for this…. I thought a comment was the best spot.

    You said the following about linking Bob’s change to a new Twitter feed and the comments he made about the UpTake at the Capitol…

    Ed: Those actions that are ripe for speculation in my book.

    Here’s my take…. I understand having a website that builds on information> Bob is a great example of that…. he reports some bits… people add to that… he circles back and highlights those comments.

    But if you are going to traffic in speculation… in appearances… well, then, you make it harder for me to take subsequent things as seriously.

    Take the situation out of the “journalism” construct. Pretend (just for fun) that you’re my neighbor. You mention that our good buddy Joe’s car has been gone for a few days. Then you link that with “I saw a woman pull up to Joe’s house the other day.” Finally, you speculate “I wonder what that means. I wonder if Joe has something cooking. .”

    Well, that’s fun gossip, I suppose. But I can’t say that it makes me trust your judgment about things happening in the neighborhood. Especially when Joe explains that he was away on an emergency meeting…. and his realtor, Judy, was miffed that he wasn’t around.

    This is beyond what’s journalism and what’s not. It’s just a level of decency.

    I think that’s what’s got Bob tweaked.

  35. //That if you do have a problem with The Deets giving you the wrong impression on a news story, that is not The Deets’ problem because he is already giving you what you paid for.

    A few years ago we had a panel on ethics between “new” media and “old” media. It didn’t go so well, as those at the time might remember, because it lapsed back into the “why doesn’t the ‘other’ side love/respect us.” Yawn.

    But this is an interesting assertion, that the extent to which ethical principles apply is based on what the reader paid for it.

    I don’t pay for the New York Times. I read it online. So should I have a different expectation visiting it than when I plop down $1 for the dead trees version?

    //And why are they missing…that last part, where people are willing to finance better journalists. We the people, have become we the sheeple, waiting for some better journalists like The Uptake to provide us with better stories, for which we are more than ready for someone else to finance for us…but therein comes the disconnect, right?

    It’s all overly complicated. At the end, sure, people have the authority to do with their own publications — whether online or offline — in whatever manner they please. But the larger question is if you COULD know more about something before you write, wouldn’t you want to? The answer to that question has absolutely nothing to do with any old vs. new media, pay for non-pay, liberal vs. conservative pablum.

    It has to do only whether you give a crap about doing harm unnecessarily to someone else or not.

    So what have we learned in all of this? We’ve learned that “old media” doesn’t have the market cornered on lazy, and that the medium in which one operates doesn’t dictate whether one is ethical. Only one’s own integrity does that.

  36. Sorry if this seems like a double-team, but I dislike when basic points are fogged over by the esoteric.

    Bob has said it well. I can be an ambitious one-person news website, breaking stories — or a one-person guy putting out a small weekly broadsheet. I can work for the New York Times or the Nation or Fox News.

    The bottom line ain’t where it comes from. The bottom line is what you report.

    And if you want to peddle loose connections and “let the masses figure it out” — that’s fine. I know what I’m getting. That’s just a low standard for me, whether blogged or put in a newspaper or spoken over my backyard fence.

    If you want to give me some facts… that’s another level.

    We all agree that fact-based reporting…. factual conversation on issues…. fact-based debate … all of it is need of revitalization.

    No one has cornered the market on how to do in this new Wild West. I’m getting tired of hearing someone say they have it figured out, whether it’s the outstanding online journalist or the features editor at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Both sides engage in this dismissal by association.

    Stop. Go back to the point. Go back to what we want to do with this vast new space.

    I’m fine with gossip and rumor being out there. Just don’t expect me to grab onto it because that’s “new school.” Most “new school” journalists feel the same way.

    I’m done.

  37. I can’t get away, because I spotted this in my morning reading related to this topic– http://www.alternet.org/media/146162?page=entire

    Hat tip to http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/jeremy_scahill_says_were_at_a_ground_zero_moment_to_save_real_journalism_20/ — where I first spotted it.

    Where in an interview with Jeremy Scahill there is this quote =
    “There’s a real crisis right now in journalism, because a lot of the best journalists are struggling to make ends meet, and I think we’re in a moment where corporations are more dominant over newsgathering and news production and disseminating information than they’ve ever been. Contrary to that, though, you also have this sort of “citizen journalism” rising up, where you have people that are staring their own blogs or their own web sites. I think that you have a danger when we lose that old-school, fact-checking operation where you have peers critiquing your work. Those with the resources to do fact checking and build an old-school journalism bureaucracy—which in some ways is very good—are unfortunately those that are funded by corporations and have an agenda.”

    –So when I appeal to all the Matts and Erics–it is because this is what I feel is taking place here in this posting, (what I call loosely ‘new media’) is what you are misplacing your disgust in when a story you have some interest in is mis-handled in your opinion. That if you do have a problem with The Deets giving you the wrong impression on a news story, that is not The Deets’ problem because he is already giving you what you paid for. And if you still feel this is a problem, the true source of your problem is the lack of better journalistic outlets to serve your needs, ones that you are willing and able to place your time and energy and financial resources to keep it operating at the level you desire.

    And why are they missing…that last part, where people are willing to finance better journalists. We the people, have become we the sheeple, waiting for some better journalists like The Uptake to provide us with better stories, for which we are more than ready for someone else to finance for us…but therein comes the disconnect, right?

    And so, for the price being paid, we come here to be entertained by The Deets juggling tweets from Mary and Bob.

    And on a good day for The Deets, someone will click that google phone ad in the corner and he will make 37 cents.

  38. @Aaron: Guilty. Not sure how that’s relevant, but whatever. If you want to allude somehow that I’m a MSM apologist, be my guest. You’d be wrong, but that doesn’t seem to matter around here.

  39. Well, cool. If it’s all figured out I could use the manual.

    Just hope the sections on fairness, decency, relevance and engagement aren’t too long.

  40. The whole “we ‘new people’ have got this figured out and ‘you old people just don’t get it’ line is an intellectually dishonest argument. The strength of the assertion lies solely on the emphasis with which it’s made. It attempts to gain favor merely by creating an “us against them” environment.

    The “new” reality is the same as the old reality. There are people in both worlds who have influence whether they want to or not, and have impact whether they want it or not, and have varying degrees of interest in being consistently right or not.

    In the past, the argument has been made that inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the “new world” would be more than offset by those who make corrections and point them out. And that’s true. People figure out who is reputable and who is not.

    The problem with that reality is that it only considers the reader, it doesn’t consider the effect on the subject.

    Just as nothing can be deleted online, nothing can erase misrepresentations and inaccuracies and the damage thereof.

    Anyone who believes otherwise hasn’t watched the health debate in the country over the last year. Or the debate over the census. Or Fox, or any number of other organizations whose survival depends purely on the willingness of people to be ignorant.

    Whether we value accuracy or not has nothing to do with whether we play in one medium or another. It has to do with whether people think being well informed is better than being ill-informed. Or whether being entertained is a substitute.

    That’s a choice that individuals get to make for themselves. And it reflects not on the medium, but on themselves.

  41. Good discussion here, which is a reflection of both new media and Ed’s ethos as a blogger who I’ve followed for years.

    All I have to add is, how many times does this level of engagement occur — among readers, the writer and one unwilling subject — at more edited and journalistically managed outlets?

    And, wherever we go for information and opinion, more is demanded of us to be critical readers.

  42. Actually, I think this wild west has been figured out…it is only that some people are not accepting of this new reality. They may have enough power to go on to change things back more to their liking…but will that be progress or regress.

  43. You know Charlie, that’s true. I think engagement in service of informing and debating is the piece that still needs some work.

    There are some great glimmers out there. But it does depend on news “users” (for lack of a better term) being more critical. And it depends on those convening people online to have a way of curating good discussions, policing bad ones and encouraging more dialogue.

    That requires not only policing but mirroring the kind of discussion we want.

    Great new trails still to blaze…

  44. As usual, Charlie makes a terrific point. And clearly the interaction between audience AND readers AND subject *is* part of the — for lack of a better word — journalistic product.

    There still has to be a better way. I’m still seeing, for example, Twitter RTs of original postings from people who didn’t bother to read the comments. And there’s also the problem that people generally don’t read comments because of the YouTube/StarTribune/PiPress “ick factor.” Who can blame them?

    And true, too, that people have to be more critical readers. The problem is, for the most part, they have no skin in the game. And we can’t expect them to be more critical readers while insisting we have no responsibility to be more critical writers.

    I saw someone’s Web page yesterday who, as a result of this exchange, put a disclaimer on his blog that said “I’m not responsible for factual errors,” or words to that effect.

    Something got lost in the translation on that one.

  45. This got back to some great stuff. I agree that the interaction in “new media” makes a product in and of itself. Ensuring quality of some kind is always the tricky bit. The real problem we have is that based on the model which has been used for over 100 years, no one has actually paid much for their news – it’s been subsidized by ads. That means that, as far as we know, news isn’t worth all that much. Yet that does not appear to be correct, does it?

    This does come back to how we support TheUptake, other “New Media”, or “Old Media”. So far, the main contribution that new technology has produced appears to be breaking the revenue stream – or, more accurately, proving that ads weren’t worth as much to those who purchased them as they thought.

    The new product, interaction, does not appear to have any more direct value than the old product. That’s not good.

    PS – If I am the “Eric” that “Other Mike” mentioned, “disgust” is a very strong term for what I wrote. “Amusement” is far more accurate, IMHO.

  46. But ethics and integrity and all that “old media” stuff should not at all be related to an online site’s business model. In fact, by almost anybody’s definition, it can’t be.

  47. Here’s another less charged case in point. Yesterday, I made a short blog post about the angel investment tax credit and companies relocating, prompted by a post by Bob Collins at Newscut. I linked to Bob’s story, my previous writing on the subject, and a venture capital investment study, while questioning how much difference the angel tax credit would make in keeping jobs in Minnesota.

    Politics in Minnesota listed my post in its daily digest this morning, and a med-tech lobbyist commented that the study I cited was the wrong data set to prove my point. The problem is, there isn’t a right data set, which is why I didn’t cite one.

    But his comments were constructive and led me to a post that supported his point of view, which I linked to in the comments. Then he responded to my response and readers who cared could pick up more information on the issue, all in less than 24 hours.

  48. Bob, I’m going to assume your last comment was directed at me.

    I stressed the humanity of this because it seems to me that in rapidly changing times the most important thing is a population that has entirely different critical reading skills than the previous generation. That’s going to take a LOT of time to develop.

    Where it starts, however, is that no one is an authority – and that we all have to take ourselves a lot less seriously. There are new tools which can help, such as the aggregators Bob Ingrassia is building, but the daze of “That’s the way it is” died long before Walter Cronkite did.

    The only suggestion I can make is to report what’s right in front of you and keep your perspective very clear, without any pretense of “objectivity”. Charlie, as usual, gave a very good and constructive example of that in action. But following the path that he took will be difficult for readers who aren’t investing gobs of time.

    The information stream is, as Scott Adams observed, “Like a firehose aimed at a teacup.” Figuring out how to handle it is the problem.

    Conventional wisdom states that this has little to do with the business model, I agree. But the product has its value enhanced to the extent it *is* an authority, which is enhanced by strong ethical standards. That was Pulitzer’s calculation. The new product, interaction, is a completely different animal that defies this model in the whole.

    It will probably take an entire generation to develop the skills and tools necessary to read critically in a world without clear authority, and they will be the ones who have to write the new ethical standards which are appropriate to their needs. We don’t know yet how they will perceive enhanced value.

    I say it starts by ditching any appearance of “authority” and starting from the perspective that we’re all just human. That’s just one guy’s opinion, of course – and I’m an outsider in “New Media” (for reasons I don’t understand) and lack the cred for “Old Media” (for obvious reasons).

    Starting at ground zero like that may seem stupid, unnecessary, or at least time consuming. But when you realize that people haven’t really paid much at all for “news” for at least 150 years, and that the revenue model which subsidized it is permanently broken, starting over from absolute zero is a lot more reasonable.

    And yes, ethical standards do have an effect on the bottom line, which is likely why a struggling “Old Media” attempted to tighten (the perception of) them when things started to turn South and why they fell apart when it was clear that the revenue model was totally gone.

  49. Erik,

    I like the idea of taking ourselves less seriously. I also like the idea of breaking down the walls of Big Media and the small audience.

    But again the critique is a much more basic, fundamental one. No one should make assumptions. At least if you are trying to have a sensible contribution to a narrative.

    And the premise of this post was done with haste and for the quick poke. Dispensing with the idea that old print hacks and young cyber commentators are somehow different (I think we can agree that while the form differs, the fundamentals are the same), you have to judge information on the value they bring.

    A five minute phone call to Bob would have made the five minute post more valuable.

    But I like the idea of starting at zero. It’s judging from the content of, well, the content and not by the medium by which it is given.

    Mike

  50. //uch as the aggregators Bob Ingrassia is building, but the daze of “That’s the way it is” died long before Walter Cronkite did.

    It’s an interesting method that it scores. It uses Page Rank. I’m not very smart when it comes to some of the metrics of all of this, but it seems to reward the popular sites with a rating that ignores the quality. It (Page rank) assumes — perhaps correctly, I don’t know — that if a site is well linked-to, it must follow that it is of higher quality than a site that it is not well linked to.

    Look, it may well be simply too late for ethics to play any role in journalism. We don’t so much seek enlightenment anymore as much as we seek validation. So the conservatives head toward Fox and the liberals head for MSNBC, I guess and the age of appreciating having our ideas challenged is no longer intellectually stimulating, if it ever was.

    I think we’re getting stupider. I think more ignorant . I think we’re getting more shallow. While everyone is focusing on the future of the media, I think it’s taken attention away from this devolving.

    Whether it’s politics or arguments between old and new media, we’re not so much interested in the intellectual exercise of it all. We’re simply interested in winning and validation.

  51. Michael: I’m sure we agree on all the points of real substance. I won’t argue details because I don’t profess to know them.

    Bob: You didn’t validate me, so I have to destroy you.

    Kidding! Kidding!

    Ingrassia is using a combination of PostRank (based on interaction in social media), Google Page Rank (based on links in), Google Reader subscribers, and links in with Yahoo. The use of links in reflects the value of both longevity and popularity as a source. I’ve chided Bob for using two such metrics together (which I score badly on, at 19 months on my platform) and de-emphasizing social media interaction (at which I do well). I would, of course.

    This is a process that we are just starting, and I completely agree that as things fall apart we sure do appear to be getting a lot stupider. We don’t have the “authority” we’re used to and lack the skills to evaluate anything else. I’m hopeful that, somehow, we’ll get past this period and get smart again – but won’t bet on it in part because it might happen after I’m dead.

    Is that cowardly? Sure, why not. 🙂 But when I see a revenue model that has been in use for about 150 years – separating news into “News people will pay to get out on their products” and “News people want to read” so that one can support the other – and knowing that this model survived all this time despite the invention of radio and TV, but not the internet, this is major upheaval. Stuff is broken that no one alive ever thought would break – and it broke quickly and nearly completely. I don’t find it surprising that we aren’t coping very well at all.

    Meanwhile, a few people like Ingrassia are playing with things that may help get us through this period. I doubt it’s the last word, but it’s an interesting first word.

  52. the Other Mike. there’s one question I’ve wanted to ask you as I read your material: Who are you? what’s your real name?

  53. Michael Caputo wanted to have the manual for the wild west of online news posting, so I’m back to fill him in a bit–
    The posting is an excellent manual for him for the new reality of online news.
    –the fact that the story is not finished when posted,
    –the fact the story just begins when broken and real online readers who are willing to —
    –set up a rss feed.
    –ask to be notified of updates.
    –actually engage in the conversation.
    –add links to other ‘facts’ to bolster or debunk issues.
    –the author can re-engage to formally Update or clarify issues in the comments.
    –often the conversation in the comments exceeds the initial posting (not just in this example, but many bloggers like Greenwald and Sullivan postings are improved in the comments…please don’t judge online comments by what you see at the Strib website).

    Funding is an issue for journalists, but other than the golden era of classified ad profiteering at newspapers, journalism funding has always been suspect and a bit sketch.

    This is the new reality, it is why journalism is much better online than even that dead tree edition of the NY Times or WSJ (and certainly anything else deader in the USA).

    Does this provide enough of a starter manual for you? Are there potholes…sure, there are trolls, thread hijackers, abusive people, and anonymous posting makes it more difficult to control emotions…but other than moderation, what can you do with people…sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad.

    And I think most of the shakeout of major player websites is done now, and anyone waiting for more revolution is going to fall further behind. I urge people to dig into the current online world now and learn how to find the news you want in the way that is most effective to your lifestyle…then be prepared to make a few donations to keep your favorite sites running, because neither corporations nor the government is racing to fund these websites.

  54. Bob, this was me:

    “I saw someone’s Web page yesterday who, as a result of this exchange, put a disclaimer on his blog that said “I’m not responsible for factual errors,” or words to that effect.

    Something got lost in the translation on that one.”

    This is my full disclaimer (at this time, it may change—I’m considering having a lawyer look it over and make suggestions): “The opinions expressed on this website (and on others such as Twitter) are mine alone, and do not reflect the opinions of any of companies or organizations with which I have been affiliated, including but not limited to past or present employers. Views expressed by those providing comments on this website are theirs alone. I am not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information on this website.”

    My initial reaction to seeing an intern for The UpTake having her personal opinions on Twitter used to cast the organization as “nonpartisan” was to put up a disclaimer saying that my personal views do not reflect my past/present employers and other organizations I have been affiliated with. I looked up some other such disclaimers on websites and crafted mine from them.

    My concern is not that I will be posting inaccurate information (I never would knowingly do so), but that someone viewing my writing won’t understand that “truth” changes over time. As The Other Mike says, “the story is not finished when posted.” I don’t want to held responsible if I don’t go back to amend a blog post from last year to reflect a change in those facts, nor do I want to be responsible for something that could eventually become inaccurate that a commenter posts.

  55. From The Other Mike:
    The posting is an excellent manual for him for the new reality of online news.
    –the fact that the story is not finished when posted,
    –the fact the story just begins when broken and real online readers who are willing to –
    –set up a rss feed.
    –ask to be notified of updates.
    –actually engage in the conversation.
    –add links to other ‘facts’ to bolster or debunk issues.
    –the author can re-engage to formally Update or clarify issues in the comments.
    –often the conversation in the comments exceeds the initial posting

    I agree. I still believe that we have a way to go before really good context is given along with news of the moment (which is also a dead tree process that will be obliterated by what was described above). You are right, this is a great new paradigm… now how do we make it work for the people formerly known as the audience.

    Again from The other Mike:
    This is the new reality, it is why journalism is much better online than even that dead tree edition of the NY Times or WSJ (and certainly anything else deader in the USA).

    Again, I agree. But my comment above stands. And you might remember the Wild West had built town squares and put Sheriff pins on people. That didn’t make it a functioning place. Just having the infrastructure isn’t enough. You need good people committed to real ideals to make it work well. Because it can also work like crap. Engagement… real engagement, in my assessment is key.

    But we’re closer to each in thought than you might expect… the other Mike (thanks for coming back).

    Julie March says:
    My concern is not that I will be posting inaccurate information (I never would knowingly do so), but that someone viewing my writing won’t understand that “truth” changes over time. As The Other Mike says, “the story is not finished when posted.” I don’t want to held responsible if I don’t go back to amend a blog post from last year to reflect a change in those facts, nor do I want to be responsible for something that could eventually become inaccurate that a commenter posts.

    Sorry, but this is a bit of a cop-out. I’m not arguing that “truth” changes over time. I’m not saying either that we shouldn’t adopt an approach that allows for the truth to evolve as people with insight add to it. I’m also a proponent of “the story is not finished when posted.”

    But you have a responsibility to make sure that threads are established… that clear links are made to that evolution. It’s not enough to wash your hands of what you put up a year ago. There are easy methods to doing this. But you better have your plan at the ready.

  56. Michael Caputo: That’s funny because I had been wondering if I was just being paranoid. I can go to any news site and find stories where the information is no longer current and never got a followup story, but they exist as an artifact with a time stamp. In that moment, the information was presumably accurate and up to date. Do they get flack over that? No. Why should I?

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