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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Take a shaky piece of wire service journalism, add a bunch of bloggers with itchy "post to blog" trigger fingers, a bunch of blog comments, and shake further. The results are more questions -- and gradually some answers, if everyone stays skeptical and keeps reading and writing.

Xeni Jardin's piece today in Wired, Wartime Wireless Worries Pentagon, is an example of a blogger-journalist actually getting on the phone to dig up some fresh information after blogs got a less skeptical start on the story earlier this week -- generating dozens of posts and comments with an apparently false news brief from AFP (Agence France-Presse).

(The most intriguing blog comments suggest that the AFP report was based on a newspaper that had been taken in by a satirical or hoax story on the Web.)

While I didn't pick up the phone and call the Pentagon myself, I did see plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the story on Monday, then went looking at bloggers' comments, and Googled up some background on the personal-cameras and digital-devices issue on ".mil" sites -- partly to show that some stories about the military come from officials who give their names.

I also sent off an e-mail note to AFP to see if they have run some kind of correction. If I get a reply, I'll add it here.

I still haven't seen a copy of the article that started it all, said to be in a London business newspaper. I hope it turns up online -- it would make a good "missing link" example for a "reasons to be skeptical" lecture to journalism students (or bloggers).

6:33:15 PM    comment []

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