I stirred up some trouble with my post about TechCrunch misusing the term "off the record" or burning their sources. Some reactions: Brian Ford, John Gruber, JD Lasica, Scott Lawton, Dave Winer, even Valleywag. Nothing from TechCrunch themselves. I'd love to hear Arrington explain what "off the record" means to him. He's probably been too busy having off the record conversations in Hawai'i.

Most of the discussion has been about my provocation that "blogging is not journalism". Unfortunately it's a hackneyed discussion, my fault for using a false dichotomy to rile my readers (call it yellow blogging). Of course there's a continuum between stream of consciousness blogging and authoritative journalism and it stretches across media. Traditional journalists aren't perfect. And unsourced rumour blog posts can be amazing scoops.

What bothers me is when blogs do reporting in ignorance of decades of established journalism ethics and practice. Journalistic rules have value. How you treat a source is important; burnt sources stop talking. Authoritative sources make a story much stronger; otherwise you're just blogging rumours. And avoiding or disclosing conflicts of interest matters; if not, you appear biased. It's great that blogs are aggressively reporting rumours and stories. But please, bend the rules of journalism thoughtfully.

One advantage of the blog world is that bad reporting can be corrected by other blogs. Even so, I believe powerful blogs like TechCrunch have special responsibility to be careful in their reporting given their influence and appearance of authority. As Winer notes it's rare for someone in the tech world to publically criticize TechCrunch because of the threat of repercussion.

Thanks to Andy and Philipp for their discussions
  2007-10-26 17:17 Z