Where Blogging News Can Go Wrong

I'm a big fan of blogs and of reading listener opinions. I plan on updating my own blog more frequently over the next few months.

But what I will never do, or never value is the sentiment that comes through this New York Times piece in Sunday's business section.

Everything in this piece reinforces why the public has a low opinion of journalists. Both TechCrunch and Gawker, two popular blogs, posted a rumor about Apple buying Twitter. The suspected rumor, wrote Damon Darlin in the NYT, was groundless when they wrote the items.

But they both reported it anyway.

The payoff? TechCrunch's post got 405 comments, an unusually large response, wrote Darlin. Gawker's post was viewed 22,000 times.

If it's all about getting eyeballs to your site, then rumors might be the way to go.

But what was most troubling to me was a comment by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch's founder and author of the post. TechCrunch has a small staff, so Arrington's philosophy is: "Getting it right is expensive. Getting it first is cheap."

Here's how I see it: Getting it first doesn't mean anything. Getting it right is what counts. All news organizations have is their credibility. Squander it at your own peril.

Arrington and other bloggers, writes Darlin, don't see anything wrong with rumor-mongering. They see it as involving their audience in the reporting process. Arrington's attitude is that his item about Twitter and Apple (not true) "didn't hurt anyone to write about it."

Yes, it did. It hurts all the reporters out there trying hard to gather facts, get sources on the record and publish accurate information. And it just reinforces the idea that journalists don't care about accuracy. The good ones do.

How do you, as members of NPR's community, feel about rumors being posted?

Update: One day after The New York Times published their story, Michael Arrington posted a follow-up on TechCrunch, stating Damon Darlin got a lot wrong.

Update: Shortly after Arrington posted his response to the Times, writer and new media guru Jeff Jarvis weighed in on the situation with a post to his own blog.

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