Blogging lesson one: Never walk away from a debate
An interesting debate is taking place today on one of the Manchester Evening News blogs. Or more accurately, a debate was started but now the conversation is all of a twitter because the unmoderated comments are sitting in the ether somewhere waiting to be published.
The spark of controversy is David Ottewell’s assertions about hyperlocal news sites;
“Too often, though, these sites disappoint. They end up simply regurgitating press releases, or ripping off stories from local newspapers, because they are one-man bands run by amateurs who don’t have the time, resources, or sometimes skills to dig out the news.
“Often you’ll find the authors of these site blur the lines between news and commentary. Instead of finding exclusives, and dealing with them responsibly (by giving right or reply, say, and checking all facts are correct), they simply put their own heavy spin on other people’s stories. This isn’t ‘doing’ news, hyperlocal or otherwise. It’s commentary. And it is far less valuable. That’s what CP Scott meant when he said “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. Finding the news is hard. Talking about it is easy.”
Provocative stuff and one that I didn’t want to let lie unchallenged so I responded an hour ago to say;
“Well done on voicing support for the Salford Star David, hopefully the MEN will follow the story through and give it some support too. However, your (probably) link bait assertion about what hyperlocal sites do ‘too often’ shouldn’t be left unchallenged. There’s heaps of sites up and down the country doing the sort of scrutiny you should applaud and unearthing stories of genuine importance to their communities – and that’s the point ‘their communities’. Maybe those stories don’t appeal to your professionalised view of journalism? I know not. Rather than generalise about these sites, perhaps some credit where it’s due and then name names if you have examples where churnalism is going on rather than tarring everyone with the same brush.”
And this is what I’m still seeing;
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
It’s very possible and reasonable that David’s just stepped outside on his day off – perhaps he could leave a message to say so. But now the twitterati is somewhat indignant at having the opportunity for response closed off. Only it’s not. Ooops……….
(btw, any delays in posting comments on this blog will be caused by me driving home so don’t say you’ve not been warned!)