As Journalism Employment Collapses... « PREV | NEXT »: Two Arts Journalism Fellowships

April 1, 2009

The Editor as Safety Net (Bloggers Work Without One)

Writer-producer-director Rod Lurie, a former reporter and critic, makes some key but seldom-heard points about the importance of editors in The Wrap, where he takes on the "insidious power" of "the independent reporter/blogger":

In most cases, these reporters have no editors or lawyers to vet a story -- either as a fact-checking measure or to determine whether there is exposure to a libel lawsuit. These items are often the product of the journalist's agendas -- sometimes large and sometimes petty.

In their items they wing around accusations and rumors as if they were fact (even if they "protect their integrity" by acknowledging up front that this is something they "hear"). Very often, they have agendas or scores to settle. They can be destructive and dangerous -- not just to the people whom they write about but to the state and art of journalism itself.

The "agenda" angle may be overblown -- reporters and critics with no agenda beyond doing their jobs are routinely accused of harboring one -- but it's true as far as it goes, and certainly Lurie is right about the danger of committing libel, which editors are likely to forestall. A good editor is a good safety net. Indie bloggers, whether they like it or not, are working without that.

Lurie continues:

One interesting protection that these journalists have is that their pockets are not so deep that it makes it worth the while of a complainant to sue them. But something has to and will happen or the entire institution of journalism -- which will soon become almost exclusively Internet journalism -- will be dead and buried.

Hear, hear.

Lurie also assails the "vitriol and vicious gossip mongering" of anonymous blog posters. "We have a right to know who these people writing are," he argues, "because they are attacking semi-public/private people with such ferocity that we should know what their agendas are."

April 1, 2009 9:52 AM | | Comments (0)

Leave a comment


Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


    ARTicles ARTicles is a project of 
    the National Arts Journalism Program, an association of some 500 journalists in the United States. Our group blog is a place for arts and cultural journalists to share ideas and information, to celebrate what we do, and to make the case for its continuing value. ARTicles is edited by Laura Collins-Hughes. To contact her, click here.

    ARTicles Bloggers Meet our bloggers: Sasha Anawalt, MJ Andersen, Alicia Anstead, Laura Bleiberg, Larry Blumenfeld, Jeanne Carstensen, Robert Christgau, Laura Collins-Hughes, Thomas Conner, Lily Tung Crystal, Richard Goldstein, Patti Hartigan, Glenn Kenny, Wendy Lesser, Ruth Lopez, Nancy Malitz, Douglas McLennan, Tom Moon, Abe Peck, Peter Plagens, John Rockwell, Werner Trieschmann, Lesley Valdes and Douglas Wolk. more

    NAJP NAJP is America's largest organization dedicated to the advancement of arts and cultural journalism. The NAJP has produced research, publications and discussions and works to bring together journalists, artists, news executives, cultural organization administrators, funders and others concerned with arts and culture in America today. more

    Join NAJP Join America's largest organization of arts journalists. Here's how more

see all archives