Roger L. Simon

Pajamas Media Question #2 - "How can we be an online Joe Friday?"

I was going to wait until later in the weekend or Monday to pose the second question, but your responses have been so intelligent and thorough to the first question it is my sense that we can move on quickly.

A rather overwhelming consensus seems to have emerged that the emphasis at Pajamas Media/Blog News Service should not be on being “fair and balanced” (judged to be inexact terms for a variety of reasons), but to be “honest and transparent.” This latter had many interesting and sometimes amusing permutations, but one I liked was that we should imitate Sgt. Joe Friday of the old Dragnet show and seek “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Of course, opinion was not completely dismissed-there is clearly a place for it, which we will get back to in a later question-but there seems to be a yearning, at least in this part of the blogosphere, for a fact-based online news service with a hard-and-fast firewall between reporting and editorializing. Many criticized mainstream media for failing to preserve that division.

The basic question is – how do we achieve this while the preserving the openness of blogs and blogging, which is their hallmark?

There are many sub-questions as well: Who makes the decisions about what is accurate? To what extent are standards different for individual blogs in our ad network and for the Blog News Service portal? (Someone has suggested we have a sticker of sorts on posts differentiating fact and opinion.) Do we need to apply particularly high standards to breaking news we might syndicate for sale to established media? If so, how do we do that given the speed necessary in those situations? Traditional editors? Committees of bloggers? A combination? Some have dreamed of creating a “Blog AP” – indeed we will try to do this – but how do we meld scrupulous accuracy with the spontaneity and freshness that make blogging what it is?

Obviously, these questions are not simple and I know I am intruding on your Memorial Day Weekend by asking you to answer some or all of them. But this is a collective endeavor and I hope something that we will all profit from on many levels.

Thanks again for your extraordinary help and as my small contribution to your holiday barbecue I will refer you to my post of last June.