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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blogga Culpa, Blogga Carta

SD Watch this morning offers both a great confession and a great charter statement for bloggers everywhere.

First, the confession: SD Watch last night ran "breaking news" from an anonymous source "with a history of accuracy" that Shawn Cable had left KELO for MySiouxFalls.com. That report left me scratching my head, since MySiouxFalls.com owner Joe Prostrollo himself had debunked that rumor on this blog over the weekend, or so I thought.

Alas, poor Mr. Prostrollo is doing a lot of rumor-debunking. He contacted SD Watch and said no, no, and no! Cable is not an employee or owner of MySiouxFalls.com. Prostrollo sounds like he's a little exasperated at all the rumor-mongering when a simple call to his office (which he says no one but an Argus intern has done) would put such whirling imaginings to rest (or at least divert them to other dizzying heights).

So SD Watch gets on top of the story and issues its mea culpa right away.

But the confessional mood also sparks reflection (that's why our Catholic friends promote confession so highly, right?), and SD Watch ends up offering a sparkling definition and defense of blogs as something other than journalism. SD Watch acknowledges the same shortcomings of blogs that MDL editorJon Hunter cited when he took issue with blogs back in April. SD Watch recognizes that if we were journalists, we would probably publish only a fraction of what makes it to these ephemeral pages. But bloggers are not journalists; we are something different. SD Watch embraces that difference:

Blogs like this have a watchdog role. They can speak truth to power, even to journalistic institutions. But blogs are more provocateur than journalist.

Having been part of five actual news organizations and having freelanced for many more, I well know the difference between journalism and what goes on here and on most blogs. Journalism is based on facts, fairness, and editorial oversight. Blogs are based on, well, largely the whimsy, politics, and common sense (or lack thereof) of their owners. To call most blogs a scandal sheet is both accurate and not necessarily an insult.

Bloggers as provocateurs -- mmm, what a fine job description! Blogging may not produce the finest writing or the most reliable reporting, but, as SD Watch concludes his morning manifesto, "it’s just too darn fun to quit." If that fun can provoke controversy, conversation, and (dare I dream?) change and justice, great. But blogs are what they are: fun and free speech, with some occasional gravitas and social responsibility thrown in.

p.s.: Meanwhile, bloggers everywhere are nervously checking their inboxes for that magic e-mail from Shawn Cable giving them the SD Blogosphere scoop of the summer!

Oh, Shawn Cable, you torture us so!
Your adoring public wants to know,
If you're not working for Joe Prostrollo,
Then where, oh where, oh where will you go?

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