Corante

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Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
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Moore’s Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moore’s Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moore’s Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesn’t apply. In this blog we’ll take a daily look at new implications of Moore’s Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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July 11, 2005

A Blogger's Plea for Truth

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I believe there is a truth in any situation, which can be found through investigation.

This should not be controversial. But I’ve learned that it is.

I joined the Media Bloggers Association some months ago, believing (from its name) that it would stand for something. What I found is many people, perhaps most people, in that group would rather stand for nothing.

Of course when you stand for nothing you’ll stand for anything. For some I think this is the point.

We live at a time when liars can get away with it by shouting down or intimidating their opponents. Reporters who’ve done the work of the powerful for years are going to jail. Others are refusing to publish important stories for fear of prosecution.

That this should be happening in America should alarm everyone in the blogosphere. That it doesn’t tells me truth has enemies here, many enemies, powerful enemies, enemies we need to confront.

It’s said that a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is getting its boots on, but if truth is shackled to the bed lies can destroy even the greatest country. That is one of the important lessons of the 20th century. Truth will win out. Truth won out over Stalin, it won out over Hitler, and if liars tell you it was arms that won those struggles respond that without truth there is no call to arms.
juan peron.jpg
The most dramatic example of the power of lies came in our own hemisphere, in Argentina. Many look at Evita as just a bad musical, or a Madonna movie. The fact is that before Juan Peron, Argentina was one of this hemisphere's richest countries. Peron systematically looted it, prevented the people from learning the truth of his depradations, and Argentina has never recovered. It is still a Third World country.

It’s possible to go from wealth to poverty simply by believing lies. That’s why it is vital, absolutely vital, that we in the blogosphere uphold truth, meaning the search for truth, the process for discovering truth, and the responsibility of everyone to respond to truth.

Truth isn’t a candidate or a position. Truth is a process. It’s a process based on objectivity regarding evidence and fairness, a willingness to change your mind based on the evidence.

When I have proposed this standard to the MBA, in various forms, I’ve been put down for it. As one “wise” head put it, “We'd lose far more than we'd gain from a backlash against a self-appointed board of bloggers passing judgment on other bloggers.” His fear is that bloggers without a standard for truth will walk away if such a standard were even proposed.

I say that without objective criteria for judging someone’s work, and a transparent process for collecting that information, liars will destroy you and everything you try to do.

There are bloggers working today who are dedicated to lying. They defend every lie of this Administation. They tell lies about any critic. They believe that by destroying critics they destroy truth.

This is a bubble mentality. As a business reporter I’ve seen it many times. I saw it in Houston during the 1970s, among the Wall Street LBO crowd in the 1980s, in Silicon Valley in the 1990s. It’s the myth that by ignoring hard truths they will go away. And it always ends in disaster.

Right now we’re in the last stage of what history will call the Conservative Bubble. This false belief now infects the media, it infects the Administration, and it infects the American people.

Fighting such bubbles is my job, and the job of journalists everywhere. Telling truth to power is what we do. Many of us risk our lives to do this. Many journalists will die this year, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa and in Latin America, for daring to try and speak truth to power. This doesn’t just kill the journalists, but their message, and it prevents progress from occurring. It keeps people in bondage.

No blogger group worth its name should throw its lot in with such people. There is such a thing as truth. There are such things as lies. There is a way to tell the difference. It’s not just up to “the market” (which is so easy to manipulate in the short run) to tell that difference. If bloggers will support liars they deserve no protection, and they will get none from me.

If you don’t stand up for truth, and the search for truth, I don’t want to be a part of your little gang.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | personal


COMMENTS

1. Brad Hutchings on July 11, 2005 01:09 PM writes...

I love the level of debate in our country today. Liberals think Conservatives are liars. Conservatives think Liberals are stupid. Read everything through that prism and it all makes sense.

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2. Alice Marshall on July 11, 2005 10:35 PM writes...

Isn't just possible that Miller deserves to be in jail?

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/7/7/1148/62336

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/7/3/17138/30618

Let's face it, going to jail to protect a source is so much classier than taking the fifth amendment.

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3. Nate on July 12, 2005 12:30 AM writes...

Alice, thanks for those two links. That's interesting stuff; I knew nothing about Judith Miller, and her situation brings to my mind a fascinating dilemma: what protections do we grant to journalists who become instruments of propaganda? If we cannot legitimately claim Judith Miller as a journalist (and I'm not really saying one way or the other, but it does smell kinda ripe), then can we justifiably demand for her the same shelter that we demand for "real" journalists. This is tricky ground here because the question revolves around a couple of the most oft-abused words in politics - Journalism and Propaganda. But really, what to do about the "journalists" that had a part in Peron's rule? Mightn't we even WANT these mouthpieces to be punished alongside their anonymous government sources?

But you know, one man's propaganda...

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4. Robert Cox on July 12, 2005 08:26 AM writes...

Dana,

You have wholly misrepresented the efforts of the Media Bloggers Association to develop policies to guide the organization and its' members. Given the title of your post - A Blogger's Plea for Truth - there is no small irony here.

I will keep saying it as long as necessary - the discussion list of the Media Bloggers Association to which you refer is NOT how decisions are made within the MBA. We have a board and committees that report through individual board members. Committee study an issue and make a recommendation which is then considered by the board. The board may accept, reject or "table" the matter.

The discussion list, which have you mistaken for a decision-making forum, has value to the MBA as a sounding board and a way to inform members about the creation of various committees and the results of their work; it is not, however, the mechanism through which ideas are transformed into action.

Less than two weeks ago a committee was formed to consider various ideas and recommendations for MBA "standards and practices". This is the committee to which you refer. As of today, they have "met" once. They have yet to reach any conclusions and have certainly not put forward any recommendations to the board. It is more than a stretch to claim, as you do here, that the MBA is unwilling to "stand up for truth" and "search for truth" because a committee formed 10 days ago has yet to reach ay definite conclusions on what what policies it ought to develop and what language ought to be used. Quite frankly, your entire post is absurd.

Here is my "plea for truth". Instead of railing against the MBA as "defending liars", labeling it a "little gang" and publicly stating that you intend to leave the organization try reporting some truth - that you have been repeatedly sought (by me) to take on committee level responsibilities, that I have personally recommended you for a key committee ("membership") and repeatedly stressed that I place a high value on your work founding the Computer Press Association. You might even inform your readers that you were invited to be a member of the very committee you now condemn.


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