March 08, 2005
Nightline on Blogs
Posted by Gordon Smith

The Nightline story on blogging is hardly news, as bloggers have been blogging it for awhile. The story, which is playing in Wisconsin right now, is motivated by the now-often-discussed issue of blogging versus journalism. John Donvan is covering the basics, plus adding a case study of the power of blogging (see below). Steve Garfield's Video Blog has a pomo post: he filmed Nightline filming him (and other Berkman Bloggers). Cool!

For the most part, this story is a yawner, but near the end Donvan touches on a controversy created in January by Maura Keaney's decision to blog about a so-called "fetal death reporting" bill sponsored by John Cosgrove, a Virginia legislator. (Maura's original post on the Daily Kos is here, and her regular blog is here.) After being bombarded by emails from across the country, Cosgrove withdrew the bill, and now he feels aggrieved, even though Keany's report was indisputably accurate. He even raises the ugly specter of regulation. (This reminds me of my prior discussion of blogging liability standards, which may interest some of you.)

John, here is some unsolicited advice, one Republican to another: get over it. You had sincere motivations for drafting the bill -- perhaps even noble -- but Maura had no obligation to get your side of the story. She was attacking your bill. This is not only a legitimate exercise of core free speech rights, but a healthy sign of democracy in America. If you want to help yourself, celebrate the democratic impulse of blogging -- even though it surprised you painfully this time -- and learn to work with bloggers.

Fortunately, Chris Bury did not continue the regulation theme in his closing remarks, but merely noted that bloggers must "earn credibility, one blogger at a time." Fair enough. And in the wake of Dan Rather and Eason Jordan, most of us now know that we should apply that same standard to MSM. This is a good thing.

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