Category Archives: Media Criticism

SpaceWar.com Off Google

Simon Mansfield reports that his publication SpaceWar.com, one of his SpaceDaily family of web sites is no longer having its pages served by Google. Strangely, if you search for “Space War” you find lots of sites linking to http://www.spacewar.com, but if you search for sites linking to www.spacewar.com, the search comes up empty. To enforce Google’s “Don’t be evil” policy, I don’t think Google’s robots are smart enough to parse the following:

<META NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”war, death, destruction, ruin, hate, bad bad bad”>

which have been in the keywords section for years. (Load this page and view source to see it last year.)

Space.TV corp, SpaceWar.com’s parent isn’t taking this lying down. “We consider the ban a violation of the recently enacted US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.” We wish them a fruitful trade war.

2006-02-25 09:55 Update: It’s back up and running. See Simon’s comment.

Amateurs

Glenn asks if blogging is going to lose its freshness as more (though still not many) bloggers start to make a living at it. He’s not worried, though:

…why are so many people doing it? Because it’s fun! And fun is good.

That’s a good reason to do all sorts of things. Press accounts tend to focus on making money (perhaps because many journalists dream of walking away from their day jobs, and editors?) but money is only one reason we do things, and usually not the most important. As people get richer, and technology gets more capable, I think we’ll see a lot more people doing for fun things that previously were done only for money. And I think that’s a good thing.

Speaking of journalists, it’s easy to see why they’re both fascinated by, and frightened of blogs and bloggers. I suspect that it’s because journalism is something that doesn’t seem to take much skill to do well (at least as well as its largely done), or if it is, most journalists don’t seem to be up to the job. It’s kind of like Hollywood (or has been, up to now)–it’s not so much what you know, or how much talent you have, but who you know, and how lucky you are. But the days in which a clueless journalism major could (by whatever means) get a job in the industry, and not have to worry about competition are coming, or have come, to an end.

The problem is that journalists, as a class, are rarely experts in any particular field. We always used to say in the tech proposal business that it was easier to take an engineer and teach her to write, than to take an English major and teach him engineering (there are exceptions, of course, particularly when the English major took some science classes on the side). Same applies to journalism, and any sort of expertise. The best journalists, particularly those who specialize in certain areas, such as science, or finance, are generally people who came from those fields to journalism, as opposed to being journalism majors.

It’s been noted that the blogosphere is chock full of people who know things (not to mention lawyers and law professors who know how to make logical arguments, against which many journalists are utterly helpless, at least to go by the Cory Peins, not to mention Mary Mapes of the world), and this was dramatically demonstrated to journalism’s detriment in the Rathergate affair. And now that bloggers have pulled the curtain from the journalism wizard, many journalists’ dreams (to whatever degree they exist) of “walking away” and just making money blogging will probably go unfulfilled, because it’s not at all clear what they will bring to the table.

For these reasons, if there is a flow of talent between blogging and professional journalism, I expect it to be largely in one direction–from the former to the latter–because that’s the direction that the osmotic pressure of the talent and knowledge will dictate.

All The News Not Fit To Print

An Iraqi mayor gives thanks to America and its troops:

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi

Down The Memory Hole

Gaaahhhh…

They’ve changed the story. Note same link as before, but all references to Wilson and the 2003 SOTU have been deleted, just as I feared they would (thanks to emailer Abigail Brayden). Guess that story never even happened.

And of all the bad luck, I’d been keeping the original one open in a window, just in case they did this. But I had a computer freezeup this morning, had to reboot (thanks, Microsoft!) and I hadn’t captured a screenshot.

But as the Abigail points out, what they did was redirect the original link to the new story. The old one is still there, with a new URL.

Interesting. Here’s something else interesting. The Deseret News has a version of the story from Friday in which the wording has been changed to make it more accurate. It now reads:

Wilson’s revelations cast doubt on President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to develop a nuclear bomb and had sought to buy uranium in Africa as one of the administration’s key justifications for going to war in Iraq.

I wonder who edited that one, and if it was in response to blogospheric complaints? And, of course, still no response from AP to my email.

No Response From AP

Yesterday, after noting the false reporting on the president’s 2003 SOTU address, I attempted to contact the reporter directly. Unfortunately, AP doesn’t make this very easy to do. If you go their contact page, it just says that for any queries to correspondents, to send an email to info@ap.org. I should also note that the reporter is not listed under any of the categories I checked (national reporting, news features, or regional reporters). (S)he may be a freelancer.

So anyway, I sent the following email to that address:

In this AP story (link from Yahoo), the reporter writes:

“Wilson’s revelations cast doubt on President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration’s key justifications for going to war in Iraq.”

Wilson’s “revelations” (read, in large part, proven lies) couldn’t have done this, because, the president did not make such a claim. Go back and read the address.

He said that the British government had learned that Saddam had *attempted* to purchase uranium from *Africa*. He didn’t say that the attempt had succeeded, and there was no mention of Niger (Africa is a very big continent). This is an ongoing media myth that AP has a responsibility to quash, not promulgate.

It’s about twenty-four hours later, and I’ve not even received an acknowledgment of the email, let alone a substantive response. Down the memory hole, I guess.

I note the irony of the large-font words on the contact page: “We Welcome Your Feedback.” I guess they do, as long as we understand that it’s apparently the information equivalent of sending it into a black hole.

The Big Lie Continues

AP continues to promulgate the myth:

Wilson’s revelations cast doubt on President Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration’s key justifications for going to war in Iraq.

Of course, it wasn’t possible for Joe Wilson to cast doubt on such a claim, because President Bush never made such a claim, in the SOTU or elsewhere, but that never seems to stop these people. Why do they continue to think they can get away with this, when anyone can go read that speech?

We’ve been over this many times, but apparently, it’s necessary to do so again. Here are the sixteen words:

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

That’s it. It doesn’t say that uranium was sold to Iraq, it doesn’t say Niger. It says that the British government has learned about attempts to purchase uranium from Africa. Africa is a big place. Nowhere in the speech does it claim that the attempts were successful, and nowhere in the speech is Niger mentioned. The sentence, as written in the AP story, is completely false, but many persist in believing it, because apparently it confirms their prejudices. In their minds, it’s “fake but accurate.”

We need to call out Ms. Locy and her editor on this.

As to the story about Libby testifying that Cheney told him to release classified info, I’ll wait for some actual facts to come out, rather than rumors from unnamed sources.

[Update in the afternoon]

Powerline says that the story about Libby leaks of classified info is much ado about not much:

The NIE has been declassified since the summer of 2003, and we have quoted from it many times since then. These proceedings from the House of Representatives show that the NIE had been declassified no later than July 21, 2003. So it’s not exactly a mystery whether “that happened in this instance.” There are only two alternatives here: either AP reporters are too lazy to spend 30 seconds on Google to educate themselves as to what happened during the ancient history of 2003, or they write articles that are deliberately misleading.

Or outright false, as demonstrated above.

[Saturday morning update]

I’ve still received no response from the AP on this matter.

[Monday update]

They’ve redirected that URL to a new version of the story, absent the misstatements.