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'We report, you're stupid'

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has managed to kick up a bit of dust from the equine corpse of the bloggers vs. journalism argument with an odd bit of straw man-ism seasoned with a dose of red herring. The old ghost is the notion that bloggers, citizen journalists and "user-news sites" will bring about the extinction of the professional journalist. The means of laying this specter to rest (again) is to look at headlines from sites like Digg, Reddit and Delicious and compare them with the headlines leading traditional news media. Of course we learn that the latest apples of the online world's eye are nothing like the MSM's oranges (sorry, I ran out of dead horse metaphors).

It would be easier to convince myself that the PEJ study isn't trying to say anything that isn't written on the page if it wasn't for the fact that people who speak the same language as the PEJ received their message loud and clear.

More reasonable analysis is abundantly available.

Speaking of mainstream outlets in conflict with online communities, CBS speaks that PEJ language.

Speaking of online upstarts encroaching upon the hallowed ground of tradition, D.C.'s New Young Blogging Elite

Speaking of the respectability of bloggers, "It seems the more major bloggers tend to ask for the same rights, privileges and respect given traditional journalists, the more frequently I'm seeing some of them violate best practices for information sharing and news gathering." The issue here is blogs that link to themselves instead of more relevant source material. I always thought that was a search engine trick and fair game but apparently some people see it as a real offense.

Speaking of the infallibility of traditional journalists, "Former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have added their names to the list of people who say they were the subjects of fake interviews published in a French foreign affairs journal under the name of Alexis Debat, a former ABC News consultant."

Speaking of fake facts, Beyond Wikipedia: 20 References You Can't Do Without - The funny thing is, this list pretty much confirmed to me that I'd rather just use Wikipedia. Obviously you can't use Wikipedia to write a formal report, but I tried to find the Rudyard Kipling poem from yesterday's Clicked and I got muddled search results, sign-up pages, membership restrictions... no poem.  Yesterday in a single Google search I got the whole poem on the first try and was able to share it with my readers easily.

Speaking of Wikipedia and facts, FCU: Fact Checker Unit (with Bill Murray) NOTE: This is 9 minutes long. P.S. Chopsticks has lyrics???

Speaking of having fun with facts, this is why life online is more interesting: This conspiracy theory reads like the jacket cover of a thriller novel. Instead of "Impeachment now!" it should say "On shelves this Fall at a bookstore near you."

Speaking of conspiracy theories, remember that bit about the government doing sneaky things while the populace is shocked or otherwise distracted? That's the first thing that came to mind with this set of headlines:

Good thing it was only Sex Day and not Sex Week.

Police outrage of the day: Guy mistakenly arrested for soliciting a prostitute still ends up paying almost 5 grand for having his car unnecessarily impounded. To follow up on the item at the end of yesterday's post, there really is one of these a day.

The College Humor prank war has escalated to a new level with a cringe-inducing, very public fake marriage proposal. If you have the time to flip backward through these, they are absolutely excruciating.

"The award-winning producers of TV shows Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life are taking their latest project online, citing 'frustration' at US TV networks." I like everything about this idea except for the segment length. "So far, about one hour of material has been shot, which will be divided into six or seven episodes." Less than ten minute episodes? Why is everything about this show being done to network/broadcast standards except the length?

How to buy a new car without getting screwed.

Speaking of new cars, Hybrid plane/car could soon be a reality - All of our problems would be solved if only we had plane cars.

Hey check it out, the next item on that list is a battery powered motorcycle. A range of 40 miles, so no touring the country on it, but a trip to work and home again and plug it back in sounds workable. Here's the company site.

I Hate Young People - The second home page says, "We want you to create a video of yourself explaining what you hate the most about young people. ... The most passionate and creative entries will be a part of a national cable television pilot..."

"Cancer cured" headline of the week: Tangerine peel 'kills cancer'

Lessons on the surge from economics 101 - I don't remember playing the "dollar auction" in economics class but it's an interesting analogy. I'm not sure I agree that we entered the war/auction because of the lure of a bargain.

I saw this item about Yahoo hacks/mash-ups and didn't think too much of it.  But then I saw this amazing map made on their new MapMixer that puts a map of Lower Manhattan from 1660 over the current Lower Manhattan street grid.

Bruce Schneier highlights a recent New Yorker piece on light pollution to point out that simply lighting something doesn't make it more secure - in fact, quite the contrary. I'm making the original article a Commuter Click for myself because a recent construction project has moved a street light to my kitchen window and I'm suddenly very interested in understanding why street lights don't have reflective hoods that keep the light directed down at the street (instead of sideways into my apartment).

Microsoft sneaks 1GB of memory into new laptop mouse - "[I]t's especially good for taking PowerPoint files and presentations along on the road." It seems cool, but I'm still not sure I get it.  Why is this better than a thumb drive?

"Commercial director Joseph Kosinski is in final negotiations to develop and direct "Tron," described as "the next chapter" of Disney's 1982 cult classic."

Two of Seven Soldiers Who Wrote 'NYT' Op-Ed Die in Iraq - This seems to have been a bigger headline online than on TV probably because there was a bit of a grass roots push to raise the profile of these guys.  The back story is that anti-war bloggers were very critical of a New York Times Op-Ed supporting the war. Later, when the seven soldiers wrote a Times Op-Ed with their own, less rosy perspective on the war, anti-war bloggers were again outraged, this time because the seven didn't receive as much mainstream media attention as the war supporting authors of the earlier Op-Ed. This is the kind of pundit blogger drama I usually avoid, but you can see how the death of two of the soldiers (in addition to the one who was shot in the head during the time when the Op-Ed was being composed) would add authority to that account.

Speaking of liberals feeling neglected (and pundit drama I usually avoid), The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns - Media Matters looked at the nation's newspapers and found that conservative syndicated columnists are published more than progressive syndicated columnists. And while I'm not much of a fan of bias baiting, one reaction did stand out to me: "Another contributing factor in the puzzling overrepresentation of conservative columnists is that how 'interesting' an opinion is largely depends on how much it diverges from yours." I'm always aware of using the word "interesting" when I write this column. The word doesn't have enough good synonyms and it often feels like a cop out. Next time I'll have to consider writing "divergent from my opinion" instead.

A couple of mails:

Will,
Thanks for linking to MadMariner.com on August 15. You were part of a lot of traffic for those crazy falling boat photos. We just launched (pun intended)
a boat docking game on the site, and it's crazy addictive. Hope Ralph likes it!
-Ted Sawchuck
Mad Mariner.com

Will,
I think you're about my age, so
this new band's debut song should resonate with you as much as it did with me.
 
Wax on!
-J.D. Kern

Will replies: Thanks J.D., I always wondered what happened to that guy. I don't really understand the final scene with Ralph Machio in the car though. By the way, it was only recently that I learned that Cobra Kai isn't just a fictitious name.