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Thursday, June 19, 2003

21st Century Pampleteers-My mind was free associating at a pizza place just now; CNN was showing footage of Max Factor heir Andrew Luster being brought back from Mexico to face rape charges. Two thoughts went through my mind. The first was the irony of a guy named Luster being picked up on rape charges. The second was the idea of a O'Reilly Network and it's proposed motto-Max Factor. Mr. Bill has not faired well in the Blogosphere the past two days after he ripped into Internet publishing earlier this week
Nearly everyday, there's something written on the Internet about me that's flat out untrue. And I'm not alone. Nearly every famous person in the country's under siege. Today's example comes from Web sites that picked up a false report from The San Francisco Chronicle that said a San Francisco radio station dropped The Radio Factor. If anyone had bothered to make even one phone call, they would have learned that Westwood One made a deal with another San Francisco radio station, weeks ago to move The Radio Factor. Thus the word "dropped" is obviously inaccurate and dishonest. We'll see if The Chronicle runs a correction, but you can bet you won't be seeing many corrections on the net.
He didn't mention blogs in particular, but most blogs are good at correcting mistakes, where posting corrections on the offending post is the norm. "Fact-check Your A--" is the catchphrase here. However, most bloggers aren't professional journalists and don't have the time or resourses to call up a San Francisco radio station and grill them on the reasons for dropping/losing O'Reilly's radio show. To borrow from your network's slogan, Bill, we report on what we see on the Web; you decide.
Talking Points noted with interest the hue and cry that went up from some quarters about the FCC changing the rules and allowing big corporations to own even more media properties. But big corporations are big targets. If they misbehave, they can be sued for big bucks. These small time hit and run operators on the net, however, can traffic in perversity and falsehoods all day long with impunity. It's almost impossible to rein them in.
I haven't heard of anyone being sued for slander for what they've blogged, but it will happen someday. For now, let freedom ring. At least in the realms of the Blogosphere I've seen, people who make false statements will be castigated for it. If he contacted the places that posted the SFC piece, most of them would have been happy to post a correction. Rand Simberg had an interesting post the other day in favor of press control, sending up both O'Reilly and Arming America in one targeted shot. He failed to point out the "false myth" of the Revolutionary War equivilent of the blog-the pampleteer. True, not everyone had access to a printing press, but those that did were able to quickly get their opinions heard around town and sometimes around the country. From what I have read of late 18th century pampleteering, the verbiage would get about as heated as a modern-day blog and then some. People like the origional Tom Paine were critical in drumming up support for independence from Britain. His purple prose might not have flown at a more genteel paper, but he got his point across . via pamphlets. Fast forward a quarter-millenia, and we have virtually cost-free publishing. In general, blogging can be describe to the uninnitiated as on-line journaling. When that journaling starts to push the political envelope and starts to persuade opinions on the issues of the day, it verges on on-line pampleteering. The low-cost scope of it allows the little guy to get his voice heard, bringing senators and newpaper editors to account in ways that wasn't feasable two years ago. Collectively, the Blogosphere is the ultimate No Spin Zone. We may not have our own TV show to look self-important on, but we here, we're blogging, get used to it. [update 5:05PM-Simburg has a less snarky piece that echos what I said above and then some]

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