Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

Change of Course

Here on the Interblog, anyone can write whatever they feel like. Unconstrained by standards and practices, bloggers feel free to write anything that’s fair and accurate. For the past ten years, I’ve played this sorry game — telling you when I thought my friends books sucked, noting exactly which major media figures offered Schedule III Controlled Substances to teenagers, and speaking frankly about sex. I have finally seen the error of my ways. I plan to become an online magazine.

No more will I defend saying something simply because it is “the truth”. No, from now on, I am adopting the rigorous standards of professional journalists. I’ve been convinced that telling people the truth will just hurt them and, frankly, I’m a little tired of being mocked and shunned for my honesty, which goes completely unappreciated by you people.

So, here’s the new regime.

  1. Like all major newspapers, there will be no factchecking.
  2. Like Newsweek, I will run any possibly unflattering stories by my subjects before publishing them.1
  3. Like Bob Woodward, I will totally adopt the point of view of my sources in a piece, even if this means contradicting a previous piece.
  4. Like Judith Miller, I will go to jail in order to protect a source who committed a crime.
  5. Like Judith Miller, I will continue to insist my stories are true even when they obviously aren’t.
  6. Like Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post and Chris Vlasto of ABC News, I will fabricate quotes and doctor audiotapes if it will help my political cause.
  7. Like Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, I will write complete puff pieces about people in power.
  8. Like practically everyone famous, I will provide glowing blurbs for books I’ve never read.
  9. Like most news outlets, I will no longer try to provide facts about things and instead focus on personality.
  10. Like Robert Novak, I will promote products from my friends and family without disclosing my association.

The fun starts tomorrow, with a glowing profile of Seth Finkelstein (assuming he approves it, of course). But the first thing I plan to do as a journalist is convene a panel on blogger ethics. Somebody really needs to stop those guys before things get out of hand.

  1. I remember seeing a more detailed piece about this that included quotes from major media figures saying that Newsweek did the right thing in this case. I can’t seem to find it but if anybody else can, please let me know. 

You should follow me on twitter here.

July 16, 2005


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