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Wonkette and the Ethics of Online Journalism 437

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "The New York Times offers up a thought-provoking article ('First With the Scoop, if Not the Truth' - free reg. req.) on Ana Marie Cox, proprietor of the popular inside-the-beltway gossip blog Wonkette. Known for her site's 'gossipy, raunchy, potty-mouthed' coverage of Washington politics, site owner Nick Denton is quoted in the article as saying, 'I think it's implicit in the way that a Web site is produced that our standards of accuracy are lower. Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy.' Needless to say, such a statement raises some interesting questions about the growing influence of blogs and other non-traditional online news sources. That being said, does the nature of the World Wide Web in fact give sites like Wonkette, Drudge, or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy if it means the difference between getting the scoop or not?"
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Wonkette and the Ethics of Online Journalism

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  • by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) * <gregbNO@SPAMwest-third.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:16PM (#8907729)
    ... It's just a different type of pass.

    By chasing a chimera of of objectivity they can't meet -- and one the public would happily tell them matters more inside the newsroom than outside of it -- traditional newspapers have gotten further and further away from writing in a manner that readers can relate to.

    This matters a lot because it's at the root of the "gotcha" journalism most local broadcasts engage in, it's one of the big factors behind the decline in newspaper readership and (most importantly), it's pissing away the trust that the U.S. model of press freedom spent 200-odd years building up.

    The funny thing: Newspapers know this, but they're trapped by the by the same bundling mentality that's choking innovation in the telco market. [greg-brooks.com]

    Disclaimer: I was a journalist for a bunch o' years and made these same observations then, too. Not a good way to make friends with the publisher's office.

    The point: Most readers will trade off accuracy for someone who's openly in their philosophical or political corner. Another segment will trade off accuracy for immediacy. If you're both passionate and immediate, of course you're going to be a formidable thread to old-school media.

    • by DebianRcksLindowsLie ( 752247 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:18PM (#8907753) Homepage
      That's why on Slashdot certain comments get modded up or down. Opinion DOES count, but you have to make sure you're speaking the same opinions as those around you. That's one reason I LIKE Slashdot - it helps deal with some of the opinions that are rooted in society - and speaks out against them.
      • Demographics (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blunte ( 183182 )
        That's exactly why I usually disagree with many /. moderators. The recent poll on income level really shows too. It would certainly seem that most /. readers/modders are unemployed or are college students.

        Both groups historically are liberal. That is why a comment against Bush is modded up, and a comment against any liberal (esp Clinton) is modded down.

        I think it's fine for a place like /. to exist and to display opinion, but I think it would serve everyone well if demographics were clearly stated (ano
        • Re:Demographics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Arakonfap ( 454732 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:29PM (#8908579)
          I agree that slashdot's community is biased, but I think it misses the point that -everything- is biased. Including traditional media.

          By looking at your current mod level, the bias can't be too far off since everyone agrees that your statement deserves mod points.

          I disagree with the self political-alignment disclosure however. Anonymous or not, I think the majority of the commentors here would not want to to assign a simple rating to something as complex (and issue-dependant) as a political stance.
        • Re:Demographics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <layotlNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:45PM (#8908743) Homepage

          The predominant politics on Slashdot are clearly, at least to anyone who's actually paying attention, libertarian. Socially very liberal in the "government shouldn't interfere with us in any way" manner, and economically very conservative in the "government shouldn't interfere with us in any way" manner.

          If you think this is a bunch of UC Berkeley students doing moderation, I'd like you to find just about any article on Slashdot about global warming -- or nearly anything which has the temerity to suggest that government regulation may be better at protecting the environment than an unencumbered, for-profit market is -- and compare it with anything from a northern California environmental group. See all those similarities? Of course you don't! THEY'RE NOT THERE!

          Take off your partisan blinders here. I've been on Slashdot for a long time and I don't recall people fanboying over President Clinton here particularly out of proportion with his popularity rating with the rest of the country. Statements that are critical of the Bush administration may just be getting modded up here a lot because Bush really isn't as popular across the American populace right now as Clinton, on average, was through his term, and -- again keeping in mind that libertarianism tends to be a dominant philosophy here -- Bush is hardly any more of a poster child for the Cato Institute than Clinton was. Bush's economic record is mediocre at best -- non-military discretionary spending has substantially increased under him compared to the supposedly spendthrift Democrats and, as if to repudiate Clinton's famous "the era of big government is over" line, Bush has presided over the largest expansion in the federal government in four decades. Worse, from a civil liberties standpoint, many people who aren't remotely "liberal" in the way Rush Limbaugh throws about the term feel the Bush administration has been the biggest disaster in several generations.

        • Re:Demographics (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          First, I doubt that /. could force its existing readers to fill out all of that information. Second, it is voluntary self-reporting, so it is likely to be inaccurate. Third, different people define political terms in different ways.

          For all that Slashdot has a significant number of liberals, it also has a very high proportion of libertarians (full disclosure: I consider myself to be a libertarian). But I would say that there is another important issue. Most regular posters on /. are passionate about the
    • With the scandel they had a few years ago with the reporter that would make up stories.
      • It's funny, but I don't think the medium (necessarily) dictates how trustworthy a site is, but rather the site's standards reflect its trustworthiness.

        As you mentioned, the New York Times wasn't very careful about catching that guy who just made up his stories. Forbes is another publication that has failed to exercise reasonable editorial control over their writers (*cough*Daniel Lyons*cough*) who was allowed to publish some lame attempt at character assassination. Ironically, it was directed at PJ of Gr
        • I agree with most of what you've said. I always thought it a bit hypocritical when the traditional news outlets complained about online journalism being shoddy while they were publishing inaccurate information themselves.

          The part I partially disagree with is your Slashdot comment. No its not the pinnacle of journalism but it and other online sites have one advantage the "traditional" outlets don't -feedback. IMO there's nothing better for providing "both sides" of the story than allowing anyone and everyon
          • Just think if the NY Times had a policy of publishing every letter sent to the editor. Now that will keep you honest.

            Not the trolls, though, I should hope...

            The thought of opening a newspaper, only to find a picture of the Goatse man on the oppinion page just sent a chill down my spine. Ugh!
    • by twbecker ( 315312 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:26PM (#8907837)
      The point: Most readers will trade off accuracy for someone who's openly in their philosophical or political corner.

      Most readers will naturally flock to a source that reflects their philisophical/political views sure, but do they actually realize they are trading accuracy? I certainly can't understand why anyone would willingly get their information from an inaccruate source, and then use that information to either form opinions or attempt to advance their views. It kind of hurts someone's arguement when they base it on inaccurate information.
      • by SteveM ( 11242 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#8908030)

        I certainly can't understand why anyone would willingly get their information from an inaccruate source, and then use that information to either form opinions or attempt to advance their views.

        You are assuming that the arguer values accurate information. In the fundamentalist vs. evolution debate the fundamentalists value their world view over accuracy.

        SteveM

        • And of course the evolutionists world view has no bearing on their position and IF the facts(whatever that means for something that happened outside of recorded history) came down on the fundamentalist side they would all automagically believe in the higher power?
          • I can't speak for all of them but as an evolutionist of sorts, if the facts (again whatever that means) came down to a creationist then yes I would automagically believe. That is why I am an evolutionist. The information we have found points to this world view. People holding onto the ideals of a book mostly written 1500 years ago and blindly abiding by it's teaching without looking around to see if things contradict it is a fools life, in my opinion.
        • by Saucepan ( 12098 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:19PM (#8909072)
          Wow, did your comment ever stir up a hornets nest of fundies, generously come out of the woodwork to prove your point for you! Where do they come from, anyway? Is there some mailing list connected to a central bunker, with a kaxlon and a flashing red light, sending out announcements that evolution has been mentioned in a thread at the following URL?

          Whenever I am reading text and notice it using the word "evolutionist" it's like a lightbulb goes on, and it's suddenly clear why the preceding paragraphs were salted liberally with incoherent bogosity. Calling someone an "evolutionist" in this day and age is a bit like using "geosphericalist" as a pejorative in the 19th century. It's a waste of time arguing -- just smile and nod and back away slowly.

          For anyone with legitimate interest in the arguments there's always talk.origins [talkorigins.org].

      • but do they actually realize they are trading accuracy?

        I don't think most Rush Limbaugh (for instance) listeners care if its accurate. It supports "their" point of view and that's all that matters.

        I think that some people do care how accurate their news source is - and they will gravitate to sources that have good reputations.
    • Old media at least tries--we're talking print here, because clearly TV journalism is the bottom of a filthy fricking barrel. They print corrections when they make mistakes, they only print what they can get on the record, or support with documentation.

      But the only reason they do that is because they hold themselves to a standard. Sure as hell no one else holds them to it.

      And TV? Jesus. When Fox News can be as popular as it is, you know there is something wrong with TV journalism. Fair and Balanced? God I
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:49PM (#8908107)

        And TV? Jesus. When Fox News can be as popular as it is, you know there is something wrong with TV journalism. Fair and Balanced? God I hate them...

        When you watch The Today Show you don't notice how openly liberal the hosts are and how they spin every story and every interview to fit their own personal political agendas, because you are a liberal. You might say they were "not completely biased". When I watch Fox and Friends I don't notice how openly conservative the hosts are, etc, because I am a conservative. Neither of us are getting any stories reported in a completely unbiased way, and it's not easy to get a completely unbiased news report from *any* outlet. However, I would call the fact that we have a choice of news outlets with differing political agendas somewhat "Fair and Balanced". Instead of proclaiming your hate to God, you should try to recognize this as a good thing.

        • Someone considers The Today Show to be a news show?
        • by KaiserSoze ( 154044 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:23PM (#8908529) Homepage
          Thanks for the conservative party line, Anonymous Coward. However, the only thing I notice when I watch the Fox News Network is how they lie about things in order to sensationalize the "news" they report. Same with CNN. Same with MSNBC. Isn't it cute that after all that's happened (NYT's trashing of Gore, the way that Bush is not held to any intellectual standards at all, or the shameful way that our "press" didn't want to ask any hard questions of the Administration during the run-up to the war) our conservative friends are still only too happy to cry "Liberal Bias!" and let slip the dogs of spin?

          If my choice of news is between two networks who will spin the truth to oblivion, I'd prefer no choice at all thank you. Liberals don't have a monopoly on the truth; neither do conservatives. I'd like some of the older notions of journalistic integrity to come back into style, however.

          Don't try to pass off Bill O'Reilly as "news". Don't attempt to tell me that Sean Hannity is "news". The Today Show is not "news".

          March 6th, 2003 [dailyhowler.com]. The country is about to go to WAR. A press conference is held to announce our country's intentions. Where was our press? Well, let's let the supposedly liberally-biased-out-the-ass New York Times scribe Elizabeth Bumiller tell us what their thoughts were:

          BUMILLER: I think we were very deferential because...it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.

          The D.C. reporter for the New Goddamn York Times was frightened to ask the President a question about WHY WE WERE GOING TO WAR?!

          I weep for democracy.
      • When Fox News can be as popular as it is, you know there is something wrong with TV journalism. Fair and Balanced?

        Fox News and Talk Radio is popular beacuse there IS something wrong with television/print journalism. For twenty years I've heard over and over again "Democrat good, Republican bad" I saw the elite left wing media trounce everything I believed in. When Fox/Rush/Sean became popular, I suddenly heard things that I thought were important.

        Is there anyone out there who thinks that ANY media outlet

        • by a24061 ( 703202 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:10PM (#8908374)
          Fox News and Talk Radio is popular beacuse there IS something wrong with television/print journalism. For twenty years I've heard over and over again "Democrat good, Republican bad" I saw the elite left wing media trounce everything I believed in.

          I've also heard this canard about the "left-wing media" for twenty years. Apart from NPR and PBS, what left-wing media has the US had? Would the corporate networks support anything other than the economic status quo? Of course not. (I admit that there are minor exceptions such as Michael Moore's shows, but those were (for lack of a better word) exceptional and their content was restricted by the network.)

        • by TrentL ( 761772 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:39PM (#8908683) Homepage
          My relationship with Fox News is love/hate. They are undeniably right-wing and sleazy. But they are more lively than CNN.
          Besides, if you're serious about news, you AREN'T watching TV. You're reading the Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, Slate, Salon, and a ton of other online sources. The only TV that is truly enlighteneing is C-SPAN.
      • They print corrections when they make mistakes, they only print what they can get on the record, or support with documentation
        Yes, most papers are fairly reliable in printing corrections on page a17 below the ad for Sexington's clothier.
        But support claims with documentation? Only printing what they get on the record? Hack journalists are big fans of quoting the anonymous source, which cannot be verified do to it's nature. The great Bob Woodward has built a career on the anonymous, unverifiable source. A
  • Wrong Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:16PM (#8907731) Homepage
    That being said, does the nature of the World Wide Web in fact give sites like Wonkette, Drudge, or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy if it means the difference between getting the scoop or not?"

    This really is a nonsensical spin on this story, and also the wrong question to be asking. Wonkette, Drudge, and even Slashdot can put whatever the heck they want to online. It is up to the reader to decide, based on multiple criteria, whether or not they believe/trust/put stock in the information's deliverer.

    If you as reader use no criteria as filters, if you blindly believe any site, info, data, gossip, or especially scoop, you deserve what you get. That goes for both the online world and the offline.

    That said, it's amusing how little humans change despite this new technology we're all enjoying. Gossip columnists and gossips in general have always been with us, have always been attractive to us, and no doubt will always be, even when we're beaming our thoughts at each other telepathically in our lifepods in orbit around the Sedna refuelling station.
    • It is up to the reader to decide, based on multiple criteria, whether or not they believe/trust/put stock in the information's deliverer.

      Consider that not all readers are after accuracy. Why else would all the "tabloids" be doing so well? The market for sensational media is large enough that certain news outlets are not worried about those readers looking for the truth, but those looking for sensationalism. And those looking for sensationalism like to see the material in a "news" format. It makes it se

    • Wrong Point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Allen Zadr ( 767458 ) * <.Allen.Zadr. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:35PM (#8907945) Journal

      I think it's interesting your take on that statement, but I see something different at work.

      Slashdot does not produce or report news. So, just as the editorial section of a newspaper, by default, gets to say whatever the editor wants to say, regardless of fact or spin - the same is true for a blog.

      If newsforge [newsforge.com] (slashdot's sister site) tries to run opinions and not facts - then we'd have a question to be had.

      Is a newspaper the place to run opinion fodder? Well, that's up for debate. So far the only legal remedy to printed lies is to file a libel suit. And the criteria for libel is the same regardless of the medium (unless you are doing a parody).

      • Re:Wrong Point (Score:3, Insightful)

        by abb3w ( 696381 )
        Is a newspaper the place to run opinion fodder?

        Yes... traditionally the inside back two pages of the first section-- the editorial pages, in an area clearly marked for opinion.

        Does it belong elsewhere in the paper? Sure... in clearly marked advertisements, too. Oh, you mean in the articles? Absolutely not.
    • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:37PM (#8907968) Homepage
      Journalism is a craft which mixes observation, investigation, analysis, scientific description, creative description, and a careful balancing of conflicting information and viewpoints. It leads to a certain kind of information -- journalistic information -- which has a very important place in the world.

      There are other kinds of information: gossip, rumors, speculation, argumentation, analysis from a particular viewpoint, the presentation of interesting information which favors timeliness over verifiability, research, balance, and even accuracy. Like Slashdot, for example. This kind of information also has a place in the world, and it's also a very important place. And the list goes on: there is scientific research, which is not the same as philosophy, which is not the same as intuitive speculation ... and so on.

      I wouldn't want to live in a world without this variety of types of information.

      The problem comes when people confuse these many different kinds of information. Slashdot, for example, is not journalism. It is great and fun and sometimes idiotic but often useful -- it's just simply not journalism.

      So, as daeley rightly points out: let the reader beware! Judge your information and the sources of that information. Be a wise reader. And to that I'd add: let the writer beware as well. Know what kind of information you are presenting, and present it well.
  • Not right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenSpinSpace ( 683543 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:18PM (#8907749)
    This woman sounds like a capital... (insert word that I don't want to say). People should always try to be as accurate as they can be, and the fact that she doesn't care astounds me. It's ridiculous because anyone, for example in politics, should strive to spread the truth and not lies. Truth that is damning is fine, but lies are terrible, and getting the scoop on a true story is a small reward when the majority of the information coming from your loud mouth is false.
    • Re:Not right. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Telex4 ( 265980 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:38PM (#8907986) Homepage
      But part of the point is that accuracy in reporting is far more subtle than true or false. Of course saying you have little regard for trying to establish truth in what you write is appauling, but then don't most high-brow publications claim they print the truth, even when they differ so much.

      Ask yourself this: how can (to take UK examples I know about) The Telegraph and The Guardian differ so much, if both are telling the truth? By choosing focus, angle and interpretation, you can dramatically change what the reader comes away with. Just look at the distortions in reporting between US and UK newspapers when the US is involved militarily somewhere and the UK isn't to get an idea of how different they can be (there you have two countries that are at least relatively close in foreign policy and ideology).

      So part of the problem with the web is that these problems can become magnified. When reading an established newspaper, you should know the angle, editorial policies etc. and adjust your brain accordingly. But when reading an article on the web, it can require a lot more thought and research to ascertain what angle, scope and interpretation the author is employing. Given that few people even manage this with the established corporate media, imagine the scope for misleading people on the web!

      That's not to say that the web is worse (in fact, it's better exactly because you get more variety than you get with the corporate media), but that it's far more intellectually challenging.
    • Re:Not right. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:44PM (#8908054)
      I agree completely. Accountability is seriously lacking in todays life. For example, the "9/11 Investigations" are even being labeled as Kafkaesque in that people being questioned are denying obvious past realities. If your not telling the truth, there's no point in talking. What motivates her to be inaccurate? Site traffic? So she is blathering like an idiot to get attention. I knew kids like her when I was growing up, and I stopped hanging out with them.

      She deserves a wicked slashdotting followed up by zero site traffic.
    • Re:Not right. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcmonkey ( 96054 )
      Current on the front page of Wonkette:

      We're not in the habit of playing Craigslist, but this is a special request that comes at a very special time of year. We're posting it for a friend. A "friend."

      1. Married lady willing to play arm-candy in exchange for last-minute ticket to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. . . Loves to talk dirty, drinks like a fish, and will write nasty things about your colleagues the next day. Stacked.


      2. Please respond: khughes43@hotmail.com [mailto]

        P.S. Will settle for Bloomberg af
  • How is it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:18PM (#8907751)
    How is it a 'scoop' if the news/story/whatever is innacurate? I could scoop ALL the major news sources just by making up crap stories featuring the right players. I don't see any way to call this (or relate this) to journalism.
    • I could scoop ALL the major news sources just by making up crap stories featuring the right players

      Hey, man, I just wanted to say that I loved your informative scoop about Rob Malda, John Ashcroft and Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Rope.

      Who'dya have thunk that?

    • How is it a 'scoop' if the news/story/whatever is innacurate? I could scoop ALL the major news sources just by making up crap stories featuring the right players.

      If thats the case, I'm off to submit some news:

      Here are your recent submissions to Slashdot, and their status within the system:

      2003-04-19 20:29:00 Linus admits that Linux security.c file stolen from unused Microsoft code (articles,linux) (pending)
      2003-04-19 20:31:10 RIAA sues music pirate, settles for custody of ship (articles,your rights on

  • by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:19PM (#8907760)
    I always hit Drudge first thing when I log on in the morning. I don't necessarily trust everything he says or posts, but if something big happened, I know it will be there. Then I can check more reputable sites to see if there is any truth to it. So for me, sites like Drudge have a lot of value, even if they aren't always accurate.
    • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:31PM (#8907904) Journal
      I always hit Drudge first thing when I log on in the morning. I don't necessarily trust everything he says or posts, but if something big happened, I know it will be there

      Yeah, Drudge has the big stuff, ever it it's not true.

      Like just this morning I went to Drudge and saw this posted:

      Sad news ... Stephen King, dead at 54

      I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

      God, I was so upset until I went to Google news.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:19PM (#8907761)
    Because they've never had a problem with journalistic ethics.
  • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:19PM (#8907764) Journal
    That being said, does the nature of the World Wide Web in fact give sites like Wonkette, Drudge, or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy if it means the difference between getting the scoop or not?"

    Speaking only of Slashdot, I'll just say... so far.

    Although in the case of Slashdot, I think it's not so much about getting a scoop as posting a dupe


    I kid, I kid! In truth I love you all!

  • Maybe maybe not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <Satanicpuppy@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:19PM (#8907765) Journal
    The thing with an Online medium, is that anyone can publish, and for relatively low cost. There is simply no way to make sure that every small-time publisher has all their facts straight. Hell, look at the Times itself. How long did it take them to catch Jason Blair, and he was just making it up as he went along.

    This is where you're going to run into some good old fashioned biological competition. The sites that print the truth all the time, will be better trusted than those that just spew out garbage.

    And, then as now, the humor/pundit sites that tell everyone what they should be thinking with no regard to honesty, truth, or provability, will be the best read.
    • The Times knew about Blair for a long time. It was only when folks outside the newspaper started learning about it that they finally sacked the guy. The Times winked at Balir's behavior because he's black and they wanted a "diverse" company, it's no more complicated than that.
  • Um..... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Finni ( 23475 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:21PM (#8907788)
    "or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy"

    I'm not even sure where to start.

  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:22PM (#8907792)
    Depending on the medium, we can choose to: 1. maintain self respect and research thoroughly, 2. go for the scoop, but still spend reasonable time researching facts, or 3. forget self respect and report trash.

    An people wonder why news no longer reports news. Reporting as a profession has been going down hill rapidly the last 5 years. It's gotten to the point where news is 95% lies. Every now and then, a reporter works their ass off and gets 35% right. Since reporters rarely have full control and the editor usually change things. Of course people should think critically. Though every now and then it's great fun to post flamebait and trolls.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When you buy a newspaper, you generally make an actual investment in that news source (a quarter, a dollar, whatever). You expect it to be more accurate because it costs money, because there are fewer, and they have less space.

    On the web, it's different. If one news source is regularly not accurate, it's VERY easy to switch to something else. Your choices are almost unlimited, and you have the ability to easily see multiple sources. Is Drudge 100%? No, but he does often bring you the important news st
  • by stanmann ( 602645 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:22PM (#8907800) Journal
    Let's see, fired from her previous employer, spreading completely unsubstantiated rumor as fact, and talking nonsense in general...

    sounds like she's looking for a job at the Enquirer, Times or Star.
  • by t1nman33 ( 248342 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:23PM (#8907808) Homepage
    When I was studying journalism in college, the answer was, "Speed is more important, provided you are accurate." In other words, you have to get the scoop and get it right.

    Well, that was the answer that was spoken out loud. The truth is really that speed is far more important that accuracy, no matter what medium you're talking about. We have an insatiable appetite for news and information, and we would prefer to know that SOMETHING, ANYTHING, is going on right now, and you can fill us in on details as they become available.

    Now, there is the nagging suspicion that if one is continuously inaccurate, one's viewership/readership will suffer. Bloggers have to overcome this obstacle as much as more traditional media.

    Of course, if you're always the last one to break the story, it doesn't matter how accurate you are...nobody will be reading you to find out.
  • by Fareq ( 688769 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:23PM (#8907816)
    I find it humorous in the extreme that the New York Times is whining about other people putting forth an agenda, a big story, or humor before accuracy.

    Regardless of their political beliefs, I would hope that any reader of the New York Times, the LA Times, or the overwhelming majority of big-time newspapers have a certain... political agenda... behind them.

    The New York Times, for instance, has a tendancy to write with a pronounced liberal slant in any article that relates directly to politics.

    In many other articles, any careful reader can spot a certain angle... a certain group or person that we are meant to side with.

    Go grab a copy of the paper, and read looking for bias. you'll find it.
    • Liberal Media Bias (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Microsift ( 223381 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:53PM (#8908158)
      I am so tired of hearing about this. Is the New York Times a liberal paper? Yes, so what?. Does the reporting and editorial content in the Times reflect its liberalism? No. It is the conservatives that you need to worry about, because they let their bias show in their work.

      Example, at the begining of Clinton's and W. Bush's first terms, each administration set up a committee to look for solutions to issues that were percieved by each administration to be of utmost importance. Both committees met in secret, and very little information was given to the public about how decisions were made by the committee. The New York Times published several editorials condemning each adminstration. The Wall Street Journal (a conservative paper) published several editorials critical of the Clinton administration, and only one editorial that was critical of the Bush administration.

      Just think about the subtle way media displays bias, I was watching Good Morning America a few weeks ago, and they had footage of a cop who was on a routine traffic stop, and was nearly hit by a drunk driver(he was standing in the doorway of his cruiser and the door got knocked off) So, how is that bias? Well, the police department released that tape, (which shows the danger of police work) to the media, and made the officer available for interviews. Does a police department do the same thing when an officer is caught doing something bad on tape? The media let the police control these stories and the effect is (rightly or wrongly) the news has a pro-police bent. Another example of bias would be during the first gulf war all of the footage from the cameras on smart bombs.

      Lastly,

      When I was a kid(15), watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ( the original), a commercial came on that warned of the liberal media bias in our country. Why on earth would conservatives choose to run that spot during a cartoon geared towards kids?

  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:24PM (#8907823) Homepage
    Both Slashdot and Wonkette fail the journalistic integrity test. They put "reporting what we feel like reporting" before fact-checking, corroboration of sources, and careful editing.

    The difference between Slashdot and Wonkette is that Wonkette unabashedly embraces the fact that Wonkette.com is a rumor mill and kaffeeklatsch, whereas Slashdot tries to pass it's rumormongering and hearsay off as real reporting.

    • by Speare ( 84249 )

      whereas Slashdot tries to pass it's rumormongering and hearsay off as real reporting

      Slashdot is schizophrenic with regard to their opinion and support for "real reporting." Some editors bend over backward to say full-disclosure things like "OSDN is the parent of Slashdot and " while others publically and vehemently refuse to improve the site for accuracy and basic professionalism.

      Duplicate stories, poor grammar, weak disclosure, no appearance of impartiality, no proactive rebuttal, and other factors

    • by Anonymous Coward
      /. collects links and adds editorial. Nowhere does /. say that they do any actual reporting. If you were under the impression that /. was an actual news service, rather than an amalgamation of previously-published stories, then perhaps you should read the FAQ.
  • by mhesseltine ( 541806 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:25PM (#8907826) Homepage Journal

    You MUST be new here.

    Now that that joke's out of the way, I don't think online sites get any more of a free ride when it comes to accuracy. For example, look at the following incidents in the traditional "old media":

    • Dan Rather on CBS announces the Florida election results way too early
    • The New York Times reporter who completely fabricated stories and lost his job.
    • The number of corrections, retractions, etc. published in any newspaper or magazine on any given day.
    • The number of follow-up stories to clear up details on television newscasts

    When it comes down to it, the Web is just as (un)reliable a source for information as anything else.

    • Dan Rather on CBS announces the Florida election results way too early

      It wasn't Dan Rather. It was John Ellis at Fox News...

      For those who don't know... John Ellis is the cousin of GW Bush. If the phrase "conflict of interest" comes to mind, it unfortunately didn't to the Editors at Fox News.

      At least with a newspaper, they'll print a correction. If I hadn't been here, your disinformation would have been recorded for posterity unchecked.
  • by osewa77 ( 603622 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .smsajian.> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:25PM (#8907831) Homepage
    As always, it depends on how your site visitors react to the knowledge of what you do. When you want the latest scoop, you go to the 'scoop sites'. When you want detailed, substantiated information, you go to authoritative sources! For example, I have struggled a bit with this issue on my weblog [afriguru.com] and I eventually decided to go for what I enjoy writing, cold as it may be for some people. the kind of visitors I need will come. Be yourself
  • by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:26PM (#8907842) Journal

    Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy.'

    Thus, if you make a funny first post without reading the article, you will get +5 in seconds.

  • by Captain Gingersnaps ( 102694 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:28PM (#8907862)
    Cox is quoted in the article as saying, 'I think it's implicit in the way that a Web site is produced that our standards of accuracy are lower. Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy.'

    That quote was credited to Nick Denton, the publisher of Wonkette who recruited Ms. Cox to write for the site. Ms. Cox did not say that.

    Really now, if you're going to accuse somebody of having low standards for accuracy ... ah screw it.

  • Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:29PM (#8907876) Homepage
    "immediacy is more important than accuracy"

    That sums up about half of what is wrong with our news today. The other have is:

    "entertainment is more important than information"

    Gah. That's a scary, scary attitude. Thank goodness pbs/npr, bbc and newspapers still exist.
  • Wonkette (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:29PM (#8907883) Journal
    The two most interesting things about that godawful site are:

    1) There's now a large enough of an incestuous core of "new media" types that well-connected individuals can instantly jump to prominence over far superior alternatives who don't know the old gang from Wired. Just like there's no getting rid of Andy Rooney, there will be no getting rid of the folks from Suck or Salon.

    2) The nerdy guys who dominate the online world are absolute suckers for any woman who will talk about sex.
    • The nerdy guys who dominate the online world are absolute suckers for any woman who will talk about sex.

      This is particularly true if she is willing to talk in frank terms about ass-fucking. And Wonkette certainly is. In fact, for some reason it's so important to her that she capitalizes it as 'Ass-Fucking' every time.

      -ccm

  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:29PM (#8907888) Homepage
    I think this is interesting.
    Accuracy is important for a good reputation, and in this world of overwhelming choice, it is a valuable commodity.
    Nobody is going to want an always wrong news source.
    However people have short memories, and don't really check facts.

    I think the traditional news media has little competition, there are a few big papers available everywhere, and they have their particular market. Very hard for a new player to get in there.
    Online there is a lot more competition, and they have access to the same distribution channels. If a superior competitor comes up, they can win.

    Google is currently ruling the online search because they do it right. News sites will be the same.

    Responsiblity, the 'media' has a responsiblity, but sometimes they shirk it, and hopefully the public will accept this less.
    When it is possible for even a popular news source to be ditched this may change.
    Or we might get news media that just spouts popular opinion to stay "in power", then everyone will be scared to speak the truth.

  • by praksys ( 246544 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:30PM (#8907903)
    Taken one blog at a time, or one post at a time, the web might be less reliable than old media outlets like the NYT or CNN, but taken all together the web is far more accurate than old media. The NYT regularly gets the facts wrong, seldom corrects its mistakes, and never corrects them in a place that you are likely to see. Reputable blogs on the other hand do a very good job of correcting their own mistakes, and if they don't then you can be pretty sure that other bloggers will do it for them.
  • Why has /. broken a story?
  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:31PM (#8907914) Homepage
    Got me to thinking how the NY Times will print just about anything these days. A news site operating under the creed, "immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy" has a free pass on accuracy because obviously, IT'S NOT A NEWS SITE!

    Sure, we can look at how such sites are used and how they affect readers' opinions on certain issues, but not every mention of current affairs is 'news'. What's next? An expose on The Daily Show? Op-Ed pieces on how MAD fold-ins distort the issues?

    If the Times is really concerned about standards of accuracy, I'm sure there is plenty of work to do in house.
  • by hackhound ( 599190 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:33PM (#8907929) Homepage Journal
    the New York Times care about accuracy?
  • by shadowcabbit ( 466253 ) <cx@@@thefurryone...net> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:35PM (#8907943) Journal
    Hell no.

    I disagree fundamentally with just about everything mentioned there. A website, if it is even pretending to be a "news site", absolutely must be accurate. You cannot simply roll dice to determine a story if you want to keep a consistent reader base. Being first means nothing if you are totally wrong.

    As for humor trumping accuracy, this too is patently absurd. It's funny to laugh at George Bush mangling a quote in a headline, but what if (and believe me, it's a stretch for me to defend W. here) the President never said it?

    Let's jump forward about five years. The President of the United States has just given a press conference. Some yutz with a long-range microphone and a web-enabled palm pilot sits about 500 yards away from the White House Lawn, watching the President get off the podium. Under his breath, Mr. President mutters, "God, I just bombed that Cuba issue."

    The guy with the long mike hears "God, I just bombed [indistinct] Cuba [indistinct]." Twenty-four hours later, Miami is in ruins and nobody knows why, until they check out a web site that claims that the U.S. has nuked Havana.

    Information mutates so rapidly on the Web, with everyone adding their own bias to the "facts" they receive. It's like the old 'telephone' game everybody used to play in kindergarten-- pass the message along and see how it changes four or five kids down the line.

    Accuracy is important in any medium. With the web, however, it's evolved to a point where nobody can really believe anything unless a) the source is reputable or b) it comes from multiple sources. Publishing false or inaccurate information undermines a), and with b) there can be nobody who "breaks the news first".

    I don't really consider the web to be a primary source of "real world" news-- sure, I read four or five gaming sites every day to keep up on the industry, but that's different from something like, say, global thermonuclear war. For something like that I will always turn to traditional media such as radio, print, or television. (I consider the web sites of the traditional news media to be a pseudo-extension of those publications; they still require verification from "outside" but are generally more trusted than the average web site.)

    Bottom line: A blog is not and can never be an implicitly "trusted" news source. Not even my own. Especially not my own.
  • It's no surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John the Kiwi ( 653757 ) <kiwi@johnthekOPENBSDiwi.com minus bsd> on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:36PM (#8907952) Homepage
    Lets don our tinfoil hats now...

    Anyone that believes sites like the drudge, slashdot et al at face value is no better than...

    Anyone that believes CNN, Fox "News" and any other reliable "news" source at face value.

    It's up to the individual to sift through the information and form their OWN OPINION.

    There have been several high profile cases recently (NY Times springs to mind) where reporters have been pulling facts out of their arses with no verification of their facts or anything. Then there are the multitudes of stories that get pulled from the main stream because of political pressure, shareholder interests etc.

    Every news article is published by someone who has an agenda. It's just the size of the agenda that differs.

    I for one welcome any other opinions or news stories from people that were either there or know people that were. It gives me more choice and a broader exposure to the actual story which allows me to make a much more informed decision as to what I do or do not believe.

    Journalism is journalism and an opinion is an opinion, no matter the source. As an aside, has anyone heard of a search engine just for news articles that is as up to date as the news is? The real problem with independant reporting is that it's too hard to actually find the well written pieces to begin with.

    John the Kiwi

  • by fiddlesticks ( 457600 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:36PM (#8907960) Homepage
    brilliant:

    you say ''Cox is quoted in the article as saying, 'I think it's implicit in the way that a Web site is produced that our standards of accuracy are lower. Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy.'''

    No she ISN'T

    From the article

    'The rules of the blogosphere demand displaying corrections quickly and prominently, said Mr. Denton [the publisher of wonkette] ... 'I think it's implicit in the way that a Web site is produced that our standards of accuracy are lower, he said. "Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy."' [nytimes.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Slashdot's inaccurate summary about accuracy on the web.
  • Caveat Emptor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LukePieStalker ( 746993 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:38PM (#8907983)
    The watch phrase for the consumer of anything purporting to be journalism, online or offline, is "let the buyer beware". One person's accurate reporting is another's biased bird cage liner. You neglect to use your critical filter at your own peril.
  • by David Hume ( 200499 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:42PM (#8908026) Homepage

    "Besides, immediacy is more important than accuracy, and humor is more important than accuracy."


    Wonkette has provided ammunition to her current and future enemies. In order for a public figure or a public official to win a suit for libel, the plaintiff must prove either that the alleged statement was published "with knowledge that the [information] was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not [wikipedia.org]." Wonkette has just provided all future plaintiffs with evidence that she publishes statements with reckless disregard of whether they are true or false.

  • Pot Kettle? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#8908037)
    The New York Times offers up a thought-provoking article ('First With the Scoop, if Not the Truth' -

    At first I thought the article was going to be about the NYT itself, but no, they're just pointing at others who don't have much less journalistic integrity than themselves.
  • by HealYourChurchWebSit ( 615198 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:48PM (#8908090) Homepage
    I wouldn't say Drudge, Wonkette or others are getting a free pass.

    At least once a week, some form of the "old media" takes it to the blogosphere.

    The fact is, there are people who want a quick, short, snarky read ... and don't mind it coming from a singular, unedited point of view, so long as it is entertaining and has some semblance of intellectual honesty.
  • by tabdelgawad ( 590061 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @03:50PM (#8908111)
    I grew up in Egypt, where the most reputable media is government owned and mostly toes the government line, and the opposition media is disposed to exaggerations, personal attacks, and plain inaccuracies. Ironically, this results in a news consumer who understands that he is "reading through a prism" of biases and always attempts to reconstruct 'the truth' (whatever that is) from fragmented and biased accounts. Nobody really accepts anything the media reports at face value.

    Unfortunately, I'd say the majority of US news consumers are blissfully unaware of the fact that whatever they're reading or watching is not 'the truth', but some person's account of the truth, no matter how dedicated that person/reporter is to objectivity. My Firefox multi-tab "home page" includes both the NYT and the Wash. Post, and it's incredibly enlightning to see how the two papers *differ* in their headlines covering the same important stories. I don't say this to accuse either paper of bias, but to point out that bias is inevitable.

    The US news consumer does have a real advantage: he has *access* to a wide variety of uncensored news sources and opinions in English, and it *is* possible to reconstruct a reasonable version of what's going on by polling a few different sources. I wonder how many people actually avail themseleves of this incredible opportunity.
  • TV Accuracy (Score:5, Informative)

    by isorox ( 205688 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:00PM (#8908252) Homepage Journal
    In the era of Rolling News, Being the first with the scoop is important. In the UK we have 2 major 24/7 channels, News24 (BBC), and Sky News (Murdoch). Sky is usually first with the breaking news, and it drives the News24 editors mad. However their braking news involved stuff like this

    1:07: "BREAKING NEWS: Bin Laden Captured"
    1:09: "BREAKING NEWS: Bin Laden *not* Captured"

    News24 generally waits for a higher standard of conformation before going onair with breaking news, but it's not infalliable.

    The BBC also have another rolling news channel, BBC World, which is broadcast everywhere but the UK. Due to its audience it is essential it's accurate. It isn't always accurate, but it's the most accurate, and slowest, rolling news stations I know. It waits for 2 independent sources before breaking a story.
  • NPOV it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:03PM (#8908294) Homepage Journal

    Wikipedia's NPOV policy [wikipedia.org], "neutral point of view," is a great way to handle this. If the story comes in, and you aren't sure it's factual but want to get it out real quick, report WHO said WHAT. That way you are only reporting sure facts. "A nameless caller claims that JFK Jr.'s plane has been recovered by the Coast Guard" is a fact if said caller is on the line with you, even if you aren't sure that his statement, "JFK Jr.'s plane has been recovered by the Coast Guard" is factual or not.

    This has the benefit that it encourages people to think critically and allows them to make their own appraisal of the trustworthiness of the information and its source.

  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:04PM (#8908301)
    I used to poke by Yahoo news or CNN each day. I started to dislike the way CNN covered some things. Not liberal or conservative, but rather omissions of information reflecting both sides of the spectrum. Basically, poor writing.

    So, I switched to Google News. Suddenly, what was "hot" was decided by the number of online sources writing about it. I started reading online periodicals I never hit before, like channelasia.com and reuters. Story accuracy and viewpoint was nicely indexed and facts could be cross-checked.

    Now, I only use Google news. It creates the counterbalancing effect to sites that specialize in scoops and poor fact checking. If a story breaks, you immediately can read through 15 different viewpoints on it.

    This is the power of the net, the pluralism of news sources. No single entity without indexing technology can achieve what Google has. With one swoop of the web spider, Google has acted as a counterbalance to large corporate media empires sucking up the number of radio and tv outlets. Fight so that it doesn't get regulated away.
  • by aengblom ( 123492 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#8908574) Homepage
    I'm your regular run-of-the-mill pretentious journalist. I read the Washington Post every day. I read Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The National Review, Harpers and others. I find Time and Newsweek basically worthless. And I can't stand most television news.

    I love Wonkette.

    Wonkette is not journalism.

    Her goal is not to inform, her goal is to entertain. Most importantly, she is upfront about this. She makes no proclamation that she will tell the whole truth. Her level of credibility is just a hair above The Onion and that's fine because she's entertaining and doesn't claim to be anything else.

    Guess what: The people who read Wonkette know not to go to her for the news. Wonkette is just Entertainment Tonight for people who care about the stars of politics instead of the stars of hollywood etc. I couldn't care less if David Beckham [washingtonpost.com] had an affair, but I got a kick out of knowing that Mathew Yglesias [wonkette.com] was in Best Buy.

    But, to get to why this is on Slashdot. Yes, the Internet is different. Previously, the news mediums available to us before were push only. They lectured to us. So, it was natural that articles looked like lectures.

    The Internet instead is a conversational medium. As a result, much of it will inevitably look much more like what people are talking about, than a newspaper or even television.

  • by Performer Guy ( 69820 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @04:42PM (#8908707)
    Let's remember that Drudge's big breakthrough came when he revealed the Monica Lewinski scandal. This was a verified story that Newsweek
    spiked after months of rigorous investigation by Michael Isikoff. Far from getting a pass on accuracy, Drudge was right about a story that mainstream media outlets were censoring for political reasons. It's all very well for these dinosaurs to accuse Drudge of a lack of accuracy, but the irony is that with his breaking news he's been correct and the vast majority of his other articles link to mainstream stories. Drudge is more of a news aggregator than anything else where the stories link to an eclectic mix of media outlets. Claiming he doesn't match their standards for rigor is a bit of a joke considering some of the unconfirmed nonsense that gets published by media outlets. These are the same media outlets who showed us the Iraqi Minister of Information day in and day out without so much as a comment about the veracity of his claims until the M1s rolled into the city. That's not unbiased or even handed reporting, these organizations had reporters advancing on Baghdad and new darned well the claims were false but never explicitly pointed it out.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:00PM (#8908902) Homepage Journal
    Inaccuracy from a single online news source is OK, when you cross-reference it with other sources. The Web offers a cheap, workable way to do this that print/broadcast media don't: aggregation. Especially with so much news (in print/broadcast as well as bits/interactive) produced by parallel distribution workflows, headlines, stories, angles and agendas all take a resonance that's unnerving across multiple newsracks, but manageable in an RSS aggregator. See not only the contrasts in reporting/story, but the uncomfortably synthetic similarities of "manufactured news" that agrees too much, especially across "independent" sources.

    Wall Street has used these techniques (and techs) for years. Multiple data sources are compared/contrasted for "data quality assurance". Long after the "single point of failure" is left behind, more textured info, weighted perspectives, prediction/accuracy performance grades and simply emergent patterns in the grapevine all add to the usability of the data, with enveloping context environements abounding. Of course, if you still just believe everything you read, at least you'll be too confused by the diversity to do anything that gets in the way of the rest of us clever enough to put the picture together.
  • by stienman ( 51024 ) <adavis@ubas i c s . com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:46PM (#8909428) Homepage Journal
    That being said, does the nature of the World Wide Web in fact give sites like Wonkette, Drudge, or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy if it means the difference between getting the scoop or not?"

    No, human nature gives these sites free pass to print exciting, breaking (though not fully or even partially accurate) news. People in general want to be caught up in the excitement of *something*. They like to think they have an inside track, or some source of information that their fellow man does not have. It's a source of pride to them.

    These sites simply cater to this human desire. They get started because they, typical humans that they are, feel they have some sort of inside track and they want to show off. Soon enough they attract a large enough audience to see dollar signs and attract other 'anonymous sources' who are more than happy to pretend they have an even deeper inside track or understanding of a particular event.

    At that point they have no where to go but down, because their customers expect greater and deeper stories to get their 'fix'. They have a very strong urge to fulfill that need, but it can't be fulfilled forever unless you're willing to extrapolate and fill out tenuous information.

    Some sites keep it under control a little bit, but few try to hide the fact that they don't really care. Slashdot practically trumpets this fact. They're more than happy to post an 'update', especially since it really won't hurt their reputation. By the time it's up, half their readers don't see it.

    It's not necessarily a news site problem - it's a human condition. Whether this condition is a problem depends on how well you can capitalize off it.

    -Adam
  • by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ni7up5ar}> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:03PM (#8909685) Journal
    There are no free passes. However, the way libel and slander law works for a public figure is that there are two things to be proven. The person who has been libeled or slandered bears the burden of proof: they must prove that the accusation is false AND that there was malicious intent on the part of the publisher to cause harm.

    This is what allows the gossip rags to get away with so much - only taking occasional hits from people such as Carol Burnett or Tom Cruise. /. actually treads a wholly different line. The majority of the "reporting" here is relayed from other sources. Those sources bear the ultimate responsibility for accuracy. A savvy reader knows better than to expect more than a grain of truth from the "Inquirer", but puts a whole lot more faith in "Tech Report".
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @10:10PM (#8912400) Homepage
    does the nature of the World Wide Web in fact give sites like Wonkette, Drudge, or even Slashdot a free pass on accuracy if it means the difference between getting the scoop or not?

    This may sound counterintuitive, but I read Slashdot largely because it provides me with what I believe is a very accurate and unbiased view of tech news. I know I've just made some of you spew coffee on your monitors, and I apologize. Here's the trick though - wait until the story has a few hundred comments, then browse at +4. Slashdot is a fantastic collaborative information processing system. On all but the most polarized issues (EG: SCO), the threads here will almost always present all sides of an argument, and are merciless in debunking the bunkers.

    While it's true that the overall readership of Slashdot has a slant, even a supposed arch-enemy like Microsoft always gets a few highly rated posts presenting MS's side of the argument.

    The trick is to know how to use a site like Slashdot - don't take any one comment as gospel (except the ones from me, of course). Read them all with an open mind, let simmer, and you'll find you get a far less partial perspective than you can get from traditional news-media sources that typically have stories written by a single person.
    And you get to see run-on sentences that boggle the mind.

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