True Blogs, Fake News & the Senate

In January I will coordinate what I hope will be the first in a series of “how-to” sessions on blogging. The one-day class, entitled “Blogging for Politics, Passion or Profit,” will be offered in San Francisco through the UC Berkeley Extension. It is aimed at novice and beginner bloggers. Berkeley software engineer and blogger Tim Bishop will lead the technical sessions and offer hands-on training and encouragement. Joining us for special panels will be bloggers Lisa Stone and J.D. Lasica. To learn more about the class or the instructors please visit the site Tim erected,

I cooked up the idea for the class because, while I’ve been disciplined enough to blog five days a week, I remain baffled by the technical aspects and am therefore unable to make full use of the medium. In addition to being the most attentive student in the technical sessions, I hope to provide context about the blogosphere, a quick overview of journalism standards for accuracy and fairness, and an awareness of libel, slander, defamation and other perils of which new personal publishers may not be aware.

Speaking of journalistic standards, Boing Boing recently posted an essay by publisher Dale Dougherty that was critical — but unfortunately fairly so — of made-to-order news stories like the annual day after Thanksgiving holiday sales story. To be fair to the guild of organized scribes (of which I am a dues-paying member) Dougherty’s critique relied in large part on an article by Carl Bialik, the Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy,” who earns his moniker by debunking th pseudo-facts we often see in print.

Nevertheless, as someone on the inside, I must sadly agree with Dougherty’s closing lament:

“The funny thing is that this same news is made every year in the same way as reliably as the turkey at Thanksgiving. The Internet allows us to see how news is made, as though we were walking through a factory tour, and we can compare the very similar results of a mass production system. Turns out the news can be as fake as a department store Santa.”

On a related note, if you are concerned about broadcast and Internet media, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a series of hearings next year on hot button issues such as broadcast flag, video content, municipal networks, Internet pornography, and etcetera. Thanks to Paid Content for noting this some time back.

Tom Abate
MiniMedia Guy
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media