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Woodward and Bernstein, bloggers?

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June 01, 2005

Woodward and Bernstein, bloggers?

Stephen Baker

Jupiter Research's Michael Gartenberg (from Dave Winer) speculates that if Watergate were held today, Woodward and Bernstein would have been bloggers. I don't know about that. Mainstream pubs, from the New Yorker to Oregon's Willamette Week, still do good investigative work.

But a stronger case could be made that the next Deep Throats might be bloggers. And if this generation had a version of the Pentagon Papers , there's a good chance a modern-day Daniel Ellsberg, instead of leaking them to The New York Times , would simply blog them. The question is whether bloggers will benefit from the same Constitutional guarantees as the mainstream press when they spill the beans.

02:31 PM

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This reminds me of an article I read recently about the power of blogging for business. The newspaper reported that many major businesses had rules against posting anything from the business to a blog. These same businesses also stated that their company websites were the only ways they generated business on the internet. It seems to me that a rule against blogging will automatically result in someone making a blog just to be contrarian.

We've all seen the power of blogs; the most recent example was the French rejection of the EU constitution fueled by information published in blogs. It is inevitable that the next "Pentagon papers" will come from a blog.

Posted by: Chris at June 1, 2005 05:09 PM

I have to disagree with Gartenberg for a number of obvious reasons:

1) The web isn't annonymous. Anyone serious about keeping their identity secret, or operating away from official snooping, would be wise to steer clear of it.

2) Woodward and Bernstein were scrupulous about the quality of their sources. Trusting a blog would be akin to believe websites written by people claiming to be ex-government employees who've seen captured aliens in the desert.

3) Bloggers tend to stay by their keyboards and report on other people's reporting. Journalists still dominate active research and investigation. Unless bloggers are trained and motivated to make the necessary effort (which isn't evident yet) their strength will remain web based analysis.

Posted by: Sam Sugar at June 1, 2005 06:07 PM

does anyone else agree with this blogger? he thinks businessweek is anti-business.

Posted by: jim at June 1, 2005 11:38 PM

And I have to agree with Sam Sugar's three reasons and then add one of my own.

4) A little common sense and some serious thought would allow one to see blogs for what they really are - a reaction to the long time broadcast nature of the mainstream media (MSM).

The personal computer and the Internet has given us all the ability to broadcast our thoughts and ideas, whether through web pages, blogs or forum/chat groups.

It may not solve the communication gap, but it's a start.

Posted by: Doug Skoglund at June 2, 2005 05:50 AM


A lot of people agree with that blogger that BW is anti-business. It's often on political grounds. Note that the two stories he objects to in his post were about politics and religion. But many also object to our coverage of labor, which they consider anti-business. I remember writing a story about a tussle between the steelworkers union and AK Steel. Three days later I had lunch with Tom Graham, CEO of AK. He thought the my coverage was favorable to the union, and he greeted me, saying, "Well, if it isn't our friend from LaborWeek."

One other objection the blogger makes is to our use of personal anecdotes to illustrate broader trends. I agree that this devise, broadly employed throughout the media, can be abused and overused. It's good to call us on it when it is.

Posted by: steve baker at June 2, 2005 08:11 AM

It is not just off topic religious, political, and labor coverage. It is Walmart bashing, leftwing "economists" like Robert Kuttner, Laura Tyson, that guy from Harvard (name?), constant and predictable negative spinning of economic data, and the most prominent of all - torturesome subtle corporation bashing. How many articles on Enron, corporated accounting, and the expensing of stock options are they going to subject their readers to?

Steve, he mentions politics and religion, but the substance of that blog was the cover story on Social Security. Consider this Zogby poll on Social Security that just came out,

Compared to the BW's article, they may as well be talking about a Social Security issue in another solar system.

Everything from their choice of content to the way they write seems to be straight out of the playbook of the ultra-left wing. I just read that blog again, he makes some very salient points.

Posted by: jim at June 2, 2005 09:21 AM

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