Apparently Bloggers Aren't Journalists

I ran across this blog entry while researching Microsoft's new Silverlight Flash competitor. It makes some disturbing complaints about the limitations of Silverlight, in bold all-caps to boot:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

In light of journalistic integrity, can you cite some posts in your blog that you did this kind of checking? Can you cite some where you did NOT?

PS Great blog BTW. Haven’t been reading long, matter of fact you’ll probably see my IP smeared all over your archive access logs. From what I’m seeing I disagree with you once a week but I still keep coming back and reading more because you stand up and speak out. This post and your “Whats wrong with TDWTF” stand out.

interesting genre mea culpa. OTOH, bloggers are increasingly laying claim to journalistic protections. OTOOH, I recall a study (well, story about a study) by, I don’t remember who of course, to the effect that WikiPedia was astonishingly accurate. And, of course, there’s the Swift Boats.

I find all this obsession with truth and accuracy to be an unnecessary distraction. That’s why I prefer to get my information from Dave’s Web of Lies ( which tells me useful things like:

Pentium processors with MMX technology can be safely replaced by a quarter ounce of horse manure in all PCs, with no loss of performance. Indeed, floating point calculations and Microsoft Project will run significantly quicker.


The millennium bug' is a direct results of the fact that, when the old software was written, 95% of programmers believed that we would be usingstardates’ by the year 2000.

Go check it out! Every time you do, Bill Gates pays a dollar to Osama bin Laden!

Hmm. Apparantly, the blog post you’re referencing has been pulled. Wonder why…

As a scientist myself, I’m horrified by how quick are people able to propagate false claims and how stupid people are to believe them at the first time. The worrisome thing is when this gets to the press or places where “real” journalist should be working. Another thing that worries me is that some once serious newspapers (for instance Sydney Morning Herald) are promoting bloggers as part of their paper.

I’ve heard of several cases where professional journalists working for highly regarded publications have passed on misinformation without doing any fact checking. I have no clue how common it is, but it certainly isn’t something only bloggers do.

Stephen Glass comes to mind. They even had fact checkers and they still missed all the information.

Per the previous poster: consider the justification for the US war in Iraq and pretty much any domestic political reporting by a wide-circulation US-based commercial news agency over the past 6 years. A few wide-circulation bloggers have done and continue to do amazing, in-depth research and political reporting that leaves “real” reporters and “respected” pundits in the dust (c.f. Talking Points Memo and the current US Attorney dismissal scandal.)

Politics is a different arena than technical reporting, especially when code can be downloaded, decompiled, traced, and reverse-engineered. Compared to sifting through a 1,000-page document dump from the Department of Justice, reading API docs and running a few bits of toy code takes a trivial amount of effort. As easy as it is to pick on some guy in his bathrobe and bunny slippers spouting some baseless nonsense, there are a disturbing number of ‘professionals’ who produce the exact same sort of crap reporting, stenography, and water-carrying as the amateurs.

The proper response, tedious as it is, is to do what you’ve done - investigate it yourself and show the evidence. We should not be blinded by credentials nor scoff at amateurs, but instead put our trust in thorough, verified, and insightful reporting. Peer review works well for separating the wheat from the chaff in science; there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for journalism as well.

Isn’t Microsoft’s Compact .NET framework enough for them? They try to compete with everybody.

I actually think Flash is so widely deployed it will have a distinct advantage (e.g. mac, linux) and Macromedia / Adobe should long have capitalized on that by creating their own platform around it. Only recently they are doing it with Flex, and now Apollo.

One word: Truthiness. Don’t read the documentation, go with your gut. :wink:

One other good example of worthless information: Gutmann’s article on “the cost of Vista DRM”. But linked almost everywhere.

Oh man. You’re so right, paperino.

I’ve heard of several cases where professional journalists working for highly regarded publications have passed on misinformation

Nobody ever gets it completely right. I certainly don’t. All I ask is that bloggers try to be reasonably accurate (eg, put in some effort) and be responsive to feedback when they are wrong.

It’s all too seductively easy to do nothing but quote/link.

There’s a lesson to be learned from Microsoft’s point of view too. Don’t wrap your documentation up in packages that need to be downloaded and installed, put it on the web instead. Not only would this be friendlier, it would also make it far easier to link to authoritative sources, rather than relying on second-hand sources like the original blogger.

Microsoft have been doing this for years. It’s almost as if the way their supposedly public APIs work are some kind of closely-guarded secret. What the hell is wrong with them that they can’t put simple API docs online?

Actually, this means that bloggers ARE like journalists:

I wouldn’t worry, most journalists aren’t either…

What’s wrong with Gutmann’s paper? I have yet to find a decent debunking. Please do post a link if you know more than I do.

“Instead, they blindly parroted blogger A, assumed that all of his claims were valid, and perpetuated his mistake across the internet.”

Hmm, let’s hope not too many people blindly parrot your post where you called the entire SEO industry pornographers, eh?

A little more homework wouldn’t have gone amiss in that post…

I work with Java and C# and tend to find this type of blogging is very common with the C# and other .NET blogs that show up with a Google search.

For the blame I would put it on the easy availability of blogs, that it is cool and the in thing to have a blog but the vast majority of people just have no reason to have a blog. So those vast majority of people need material for their blogs so when they see an article of something they rewrite it on their blog. This leads to someone writing an misinformed blog then having a pyramid of blogs spreading out from it.

Not much can be done about it except do a quick scan of the article and going to the next search result.

You’ve made big mistakes before

For sure. I make mistakes all the time.

But I can’t think of any time I’ve posted something that was patently, obviously wrong through outright carelessness and/or failure to do basic research on a topic.