Why running with tips and rumors is ok for bloggers, but not traditional journalists (or Blogs are conversations)

I’ve come to realize that tips and scoops are, in large part,the currency of Blogs. But it is not only the tips and scoops themselves, but the ability to run with them.

In traditional journalism when you get a tip or scoop you take the time to call all the parties involved and get a comment from them. If there is a response it is typically “no comment” or “we don’t comment on things of that nature.” You go throught the process anyway, just in case.

This is the expecatation people have for traditional media (i.e. print publications, radio and TV news).

Blogs are, however, held to a totally different standard. Blogs are conversations and are held to a standardno higher then that of cocktail party conversations.

If someone said “I heard the CEO of this company is being replaced” at a cocktail party no one would demand that person go investigate it. That person is doing a service to the other people at the party by giving them the “chatter” (to use a military term) on the streets.

Everyone at the cockatail party understands how to use this data.

We saw earlier this year the Drudge Report (which made a name for itself for running with the Monica Lewinsky story when no one else would) take a hit when it ran with a story that Kerry had his own internscandal. When it turned out to be false the expectation was that Drudge Report would be ruined, or at least not trusted. People definatly look at Drudge differently today, of course it would take a couple of these in a short period for Drudge to be ruined.

Fact is, the readers should have never trusted the words coming from the Drudge Report as Gospel truth. It is Drudge’s fault that he decided to move himself from the blogger bucket to the traditionl news journalism bucket. Had Drudge positioned itself as a blog people would not have been so shocked that one of his tips was bad.

So, I’m learning to go with my tips but put context around them. Make it clear to folks that rumors and tips are just that. You can’t trust every tip, but if one or two out of ten are correct I’d like to hear all ten just so I’m prepared for which ones might come true. If those tips are on a blog or at cocktail party it doesn’t make a difference to meas long as they are not in the New York Times.

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