I recently talked to someone who talked to a journalist off the record and was quoted anyway. This happens to me too. I think it might be interesting if we could figure out a way to share our experiences with specific journalists. I got the idea from reading Dan Gillmor's book about how the defense department posts full transcripts of interviews on its web site so people can read the context in which statements are made. Maybe we can link to or upload such transcripts as well. Hopefully, this will help make journalists a bit more honest and give the honest ones a bit more credit. I'm going to try to start it on a wiki page, but we may have to move it to something more structured depending on how it goes. Obviously, positive feedback about journalists is also something that we should track.

10 Comments

Joi, you may want to consider moving it off a wiki, as that is not as permanent of a platform as other options might be? Sure, you can rollback, but the reality of a wiki is that it is editable by anyone, and that makes it a bit less credible of a platform, especially in light of what you are trying to track?

Yup. I figured I'd get it started on a wiki to see if anyone was interested and move it to something more permanent afterwards.

An MP3 would do it better. You have not to transcribe it.

I think it's good that they keep you on your toes. I have a feeling there's a lot of relevant stuff the public is not hearing about these days, as mainstream politicos swarm blogspace.

MP3s have other drawbacks; other than being a drain on resources (an hour of audio is a LOT bigger than a dozen pages of text, not matter the bit-rate), they're a lot harder to search. And I know from experience I'm much less likely to listen to an entire interview in 'real-time', so to speak, than I am to quickly skim through a document to verify a fact or check I've understood something.

And I don't think it's a matter of keeping 'them' on their toes; it's much more about being transparent and getting it right. Which is what blogspace should be about -- getting right to the source. Watching the watchers, dare I say it.

Essentially, this is a sort of 'blacklist' for accountability. I suggested a similar database for politicians so voters can keep track of what they said and voted for over their entire career.

Some PR agencies have a rolling database where diligent associates can keep track of their press contacts and interactions. No agency ever wants to share their internal notes, which is a shame--but most PR folks are busy antagonizing the press anyway. Services such as MediaMap can potentially track these things on their databases, but again, that requires tons of administration time that most PR folks don't want to be devoting, and most "end clients" are too busy to do.

Maybe I'm an idealist, but I just take solace in the fact that the ones that get it wrong (journalists that publish off the record comments and such) take themselves out of the game. Again, maybe that's naive and idealist...I'm still waiting for the shakeout to be over.

I was just thinking of something similar. But my model was not Wiki, but more like Ebay. If you have a "transaction" with a journalist, you enter your rating of them, and it's all collected based on the article. It would be great to know who can be trusted.

I think that kind of transparency is a good thing, but as a journalist of nearly 28 years you have to realize that, as a source, you are essentially the raw material in someone else's product to put it into the most flagrantly industrial of contexts. The fact that your quote might not be part of what you want to put forward as your message is incidental. That's why a blogging archive of transcripts is a good thing. And I think media might want to consider linking to the midrash of blogs and this archive to give a wider context to the story. It's no extra work, they could sell some ads around it, draw in other readers, make their sites interactive, etc. Of course it would mean giving up control, which is something they prize and think they need to preserve their value. But a bazaar-like media instead of the cathedral is a more viable model, long term in this environment.

Leave a comment

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Business and the Economy category.

Books is the previous category.

Computer and Network Risks is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index.

Monthly Archives