The Birth Pangs of a New Media - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Birth Pangs of a New Media

Yesterday, the new Politico made news when reporter Ben Smith, citing a single source, falsely reported that John Edwards was suspending his campaign due to a recurrence of Elizabeth’s cancer. The false story spread like wildfire over the Internet and then was picked up by the major news channels. Smith, who has been an excellent reporter, graciously explained why he blew the story. The interesting part of this whole debacle is that it demonstrates the rocky road we’re on as the new media and old media converge. Smith broke the story as a blog post, and blogs are an informal medium where people often speculate and pass on rumors, but typically qualify them as such. However, as blogs more and more become a source of breaking news, and the line between news reporting and blogging blurs, entries tend to be written in a more formal style, with a certainty and authority that would normally be reserved for news stories, even if it’s unjustified by the sourcing. It’s doubtful that any major news organization would have run such a big news story based on a single source, but as a blogger, Smith felt his information was good enough for a short little, harmless, blog post. But when Drudge headlined it with a siren, all hell broke loose. This may end up as a watershed moment for a medium that is struggling to grow beyond its infancy.

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