Off topic: The facade of objectivity

Summary:This Wired-TechCrunch war is interesting for the media wonks out there, but larger question is this: Does objectivity exists? Does it even matter?

This Wired-TechCrunch war is interesting for the media wonks out there, but larger question is this: Does objectivity exists? Does it even matter?

Here's the short version. The Washington Post inks a syndication deal with TechCrunch. Wired notes that it's odd that the Post picks up a guy that writes about companies he invests in. TechCrunch fires back.

But let's cut to the chase. Do readers care? I don't as long as everything is disclosed. And when you read Michael Arrington you know what you're going to get because he discloses his investments. As a reader I can decide for myself why Michael says whatever he says. Same with Henry Blodget or any other blogger I read. Kara Swisher's spouse works at Google and she discloses that and more than you'd ever want to know. You gotta love that disclosure. Good luck finding that disclosure in the newspaper.

The big takeaway and the reason this hubbub is overblown: It's all disclosed. Arrington doesn't claim to be a journalist so why does he necessarily have to adhere to the Post's creed. Wired's beef appears to be with the Post, but the company can do what it wants. The Post has a line between its journalism and the bloggers it may pick up. It's all interesting and valuable information in any case.

For me--a tweener in this blogger-meets-journalism world--there's another long-time rant sparked by this overblown back and forth between Wired and TechCrunch. The rant: The facade of objectivity. The best thing about blogging is that you generally can find disclosures somewhere. The personalities are on parade. You generally know a blogger's motives, his personality and his biases. You also yell at him accordingly. Some try to be more fair than others, but in general the editorial process is much more transparent to me.

In mainstream media, there's a long list of things I don't know. I don't know what the preconceived notions were going into a story. I don't know the party affiliation of the writers and editors who write political stories. Does the editor of a business story think Wall Street is evil? I'd like to know that before reading a story on the demise of Wall Street. Did that woman writing a game story about my beloved Philadelphia Eagles grow up a Dallas Cowboys fan? I don't know how many interviews were conducted before posting a story. Come to think of it--I don't know jack when it comes to disclosure for many mainstream media writers aside from some ethics statement that is buried somewhere. None of us journalism types invest in the companies we write about, but the disclosure issue goes way beyond that.

The point: Everyone has their biases. And that's fine as long as they are disclosed. You the reader can make your own decisions.

Topics: Browser, CXO

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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