Monday, November 30, 2009

Choose Your News

A commenter on Doc's Potpourri recently questioned the veracity of bloggers compared to that of a Star-Ledger reporter regarding what happened at a Nov. 23 special meeting:

Doc, I have read the various Blog accounts of the Council meeting and in each it seems clear that we face dire problems. It also seems clear from all of the Blogs that the current Administration seems unqualified to handle the current situation. This said I was surprised to read an account of the meeting in todays Star Ledger that in no way painted a similar picture. This article talked of the layoff problems but painted a picture of a Council and Administration working together in a matter of fact way to resolve the issues. With do respect to the bloggers, many more people are going to form their opinion from this newspaper article than from your postings. The Star Ledger and the bloggers can not both be right. Perhaps the bloggers and the reporter from the Star Ledger should sit down and compare notes. Is this a case where the Star Ledger simply does not care to do any type of in depth reporting on Plainfield or a case of the bloggers not being fair to the Administration?

Having been a reporter for 16 years myself, I had an inkling that the S-L article was a phoner, meaning the news desk probably had the reporter follow up by phone on a story. Sure enough, I inquired and received an e-mail confirmation that the reporter in question was not present at the meeting, as the four bloggers were. The S-L story was based on a phone interview with City Administrator Marc Dashield. Perhaps this led to the contrast to which the commenter alludes.

If a reader wants to believe any one source over another, that is the reader's prerogative. There are many styles of newsgathering and reporting, including both live coverage and phone interviews. In this case, according to the commenter, four bloggers who attended the meeting came up with similar findings.

BTW, hell will freeze before any editor would let a reporter "sit down and compare notes" with bloggers, although some dailies routinely use blogs for news tips.

So believe what you will, but better yet, come out and see your administration and governing body interacting at City Council meetings. The next one is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Cook School.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the SL reporter isn't carrying a decades long grudge.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 10:44 PM - The Star Ledger reporter did not attend the meeting he reported on; the bloggers did. Period. What does your perception of someone having a grudge have to do with anything?

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, I whole heartly [anonymously for what that is worth] encourage residents of ALL municipalities attend one of their governing body's council meetings. It beats any soap opera or Sponge Bob Square Pants any day/night. Then for real drama attend a court session !! You will pick up way many new excuses for why things are not your fault !!


3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, I wrote the response to Doc not because I in any way doubted the reporting and analysis of the 'bloggers' but simply because of the Ledgers poor reporting and review of the event. My main point, which I believe is not in dispute, is that the public in general is getting their information from the Ledger (in addition to the Courier News) and not from your blogs.
Lets look at the Council, Mapp Burney and Storch seem to maintain current blogs detailing their views on City events. McWilliams has a blog that is not used to put forth current political views and the other members do not seem to blog.
Bloggers owe it to themselves, for all of the work that they put into their postings, to find ways to broaden their readership within the community. In order to succeed they must become a force that challenges the likes of the Star Ledger to adapt and improve its coverage.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

How about telling your friends about the blogs?
The Star-Ledger is regarded as the newspaper of record, but its recent shift to outsourced local reporting and its poaching of content from blogs and other newspapers on its "Continuous News Desk" are going to mar that reputation eventually.
Bloggers are usually solitary and do not have resources to promote themselves. The closest thing to promotion may be Dan's CLIPS, which aggregates blog and news content in one place. I still find it irksome that some of us stay long hours at meetings and then Dan just serves our content up on a plate like the waitperson bearing a chef's creations. Oh well, that is an argument for the ages - even Rupert Murdoch can't stand aggregators.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the simile, Bernice, but at least Dan does write a blog, too, haha. I subscribe to CLIPS for the one-stop shopping, since I am on my mobile phone, mostly, but I ALWAYS read PlainTalker first! Keep up the excellent work!

11:27 AM  

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