Sunday, 6 March 2011

Integrity and Credibility: hand-in-and but not one-in-the-same

What's up Peeps!

So Today I woke up and did my normal routine of checking headlines, first at TorStar.  The front/homepage story was a picture of two young girls and the headline "Travel microchip found in case of missing twins." This was the first I'd heard of any such story, so I clicked to read more.

Here's a screenshot of the story:

I had a tough time gathering the happenings of the story.  Who was Mattias Schepp? Ok, he's revealed to be the father of the missing twins in the next paragraph.  But who is Alfredo Fabbrocini? And who are the missing twins? When did that happen? Anyone?  I was a bit annoyed because this was front page stuff and there was really no info. [At least a link to earlier reports/stories or some type of "breaking news/this story is still developing" disclaimer]

I put out a light-hearted tweet that was a bit of a jab at Torstar.  It read"oh @ what I wouldn't do without your poorly written/researched articles, don't worry, I'll keep reading".  I'll do this occasionally when I see a major news outlet put out a story that is just filled with spelling mistakes, bad editing (cut-n-paste fail) and content.  I find this as a source of personal entertainment, but I guess it can also been seen as a sort of taking-it-to-the-man type of attitude.  

Someone on Twitter said that "as pillar of journalistic integrity" there was no one more fit to judge the TorStar than myself.  Sensing sarcasm, in 140 characters or less, I tried to relay that I thought the article's content wasn't homepage worthy.  I also tried to be funny.  I don't think either worked.  And so a debate of tweets began to flow.

My friend on twitter was quick to point out that the TorStar article was syndicated from AP and that papers often get digital feeds for breaking news.  Very true.  Still, as a front page story (at the time Sunday morning) I come to expect a little more than what was delivered.  

Twitter friend asked if the AP had any facts wrong.  I said no, wasn't my point.  I'm talking content and front page "newsworthiness" (pseudo hate this term). Twitter friend asks why it's important to convince them of what's appropriate for TorStar homepage.  I'm now confused.  Wasn't trying to convince anyone, I was just reiterating my points when they asked about my tweet.  Twitter friend says they're curious to know my reasoning for saying TorStar isn't credible.  Even more confused, never said that.

Again, having this last bit exchanged over twitter in a barrage of 140 character tweets didn't provide for the most entertaining or comprehensive conversation. 

I admit, 100% I took a jab at TorStar's integrity (in a tweet).  I think I'm entitled to do so.  In my honest opinion, when you put out a story like that, with that content, you're being lazy.  When more information is available and that's what your giving to your dedicated readership, shame.  As a TorStar subscriber and reader, I really do expect more from them.  

However, I was not attacking their credibility.  I pointed out that my comments were of a casual, funny nature (people have laughed at my TorStar cracks in the past....tough room) and that I do support TorStar.   Just because I commented on a news story and even admitted to questioning their integrity, does not mean I am attacking their credibility.  You can have little integrity while still maintaing credibility and good reputation.  And vice verca.  Again, not suggesting either applies to the TorStar, simply that the two, while similar, are not the same.

I think the TorStar is a very credible media outlet and it would take a lot more than a few lazy stories and some misconstrued tweets to chip away at them.  That said, I do think it's okay to take jabs at them when their standards drop, because as a supporter and a stakeholder in their organization, it's my right and duty to do my part and helping to keep them honest.  

In the end I think Twitter friend and I agreed to disagree.  Actually no, they offered some advice and cautions about the Lion's Den that is professional writing.  I said not to worry as I'm not a pro writer and they then pointed out that I am competing to be the Endras BMW Ultimate Blogger.  And so the debate transformed like the Phoenix into a much larger question (for me at least) on whether Blogging is professional writing?  

Huge question, I don't think, with any clear answer, rather many sides and opinions to a coin.  Methinks that'll have to wait until the next blog post.

Oh, and PLEASE take 3 seconds to vote for me in the Endras BMW Ultimate Blogger contest.  No sign up or emails needed, just click HERE.

Love from your Homie, 

Shawn Hawaii

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