Michael Skube: just another guy with a blog and an Exhibit A for why bloggers are mad at Corporate Media

Here are a few pertinent quotes, but read the entire articles as well as long comment threads.

Ed Cone:

Skube published an opinion piece about blogs that, with the help of his editors at the LA Times, failed to uphold the journalistic standards he preaches.

It's not the first time that Skube has opined out of ignorance on this subject. I called the Pulitzer winner's previous column for the N&R a "virtually content-free rant, citing no blogs, showing no signs he did any research by reading blogs...crap." Then I phoned Skube and found he had said little because he knew little and cared little about them. That doesn't seem to have changed.

Jay Rosen:

Retire, man. I'm serious. You're an embarrassment to my profession, to the university where you teach, and to the craft of reporting you claim to defend. It is time for you to quit, as you've clearly called it quits on learning-- and reporting. Ring this guy up and ask him to go bass fishing or something. You're not doing anyone any good-- you're just insulting your own bio. And when you're done lecturing us on "the patient fact-finding of reporters," tell the godforsaken LA Times they're going to have to run a correction. The Post hasn't won a Pulitzer for its reporting on Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Jeez.

Paul Jones:

In December 2005, Michael Skube wrote a poorly researched (or more properly not researched at all) oped about blogging for the News and Record (Greensboro, NC). [Oddly this article cannot be found in NewsBank or online]

Ed Cone was so shocked that he called Skube to ask him about his experiences reading blogs and found in a very interesting conversation that Skube admitted to having no experience reading blogs at all short of a couple of Andrew Sullivan pieces.

In the process, Ed mentioned Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo. Skube owned up to knowing Marshall from print but had never heard of TPM.

Fast forward to yesterday and a new diatribe against blogs published in the LA Times. Here Skube reheats his arguments, but this time points to TPM as a place where facts aren't checked. Only one problem, Skube still admits to not having read TPM -- this time to Marshall himself.

Instead, Skube claims that his editors altered his article to insert TPM and others. Skube signed off on the article having yet to have done any of the research required to have written it.

Jill of Feministe (scroll down as Permalink is funky):

Dear Michael Skube,

Take a deep breath and repeat after me: Bloggers do not want your job.

You seem to be under the impression that bloggers want to do away with the journalistic establishment, and that we want to replace it with an internet free-for-all. That may be what the right-wing, Fox-worshipping dingbats over at Instapundit or TownHall are fighting for, but for the most part, progressive bloggers don't want to see the end of CNN or the New York Times or Newsweek. We just want you to do your job. Bloggers are a lot of things, but for the most part, we aren't reporters. We don't have the resources that you have, or the institutional support. We're critics, commentators, vultures who pick apart and criticize and sometimes build on the work that you do. We occasionally break stories, and sometimes we cover events, but many of us are decidedly partisan and don't bother to feign neutrality. Some of us do report, and do try to adhere to traditional journalistic ethics. Most of us don't. That's ok. And, God help me for quoting Markos, but he's right when he says that "We need to keep the media honest, but as an institution, it's important that they exist and do their job well."

Amanda Marcotte:

The idea that liberal bloggers are too blinded by partisanship to touch the robes of the unbiased press is un-fucking-believably insulting to me, on a personal level. While the mainstream media brainlessly played puppet for Republican smear-masters, pretending that "Catholic leaders" were attacking Melissa McEwan and myself, liberal bloggers kept the truth alive, writing and petitioning endlessly for the reality that we were the victims of baseless attacks from conservative organizations that exist pretty much only to undermine Democrats.


As Jill notes, it seems that Skube and others in the "MSM" seem to view comments from bloggers like this as a direct attack on their jobs, as if we are storming the gate and want to take over. To a degree, this is true--one of the issues that was kicked around during Yearly Kos, for instance, is how to percolate up some bloggers to the next level and get our voices into the mainstream media, which is no more seedy than the efforts undertaken by those already there to get their jobs. (The LA Times regularly runs pieces by Ezra Klein, so it's only fair to point out that they're often on the side of the angels on this.) But when it comes to journalism, Jill is 100% right--on the whole, liberal bloggers don't want to oust the media. We just want it to work like it's supposed to. If the media had worked like it was supposed to, the nation would have known from the get-go what was obvious to those of us with a healthy dose of skepticism, that there were no damn WMDs in Iraq and the Bush administration was orchestrating a misinformation campaign to trick the nation into going to war. The blood of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis is on the hands of every journalist who suspended good judgment and breathlessly passed on BushCo lies about the war.

That said, I do have a caveat to introduce that makes the whole thing distressing. Bloggers most definitely do not want your job. But I can see how it might seem, from the point of view of those who do have high perches in the "MSM", that we're trying to screw up their lives. It gets back to the whole acronym "MSM"--what Markos was probably getting at and Skube hysterically skipped over, was that the problem with the media is not that it's mainstream so much as that it's under the thrall of right wing elements, no doubt in part because it's corporate-controlled.

Jay Rosen:

I know an editor at the LA Times who saw my post. He asked me if I wanted to write a Blowback piece (see this example) for the opinion section of the site.

A reply of sorts to Professor Skube.

I am not interested in investigating him, but I am interested in including in my reply 7-10 diverse and interesting examples of blog sites doing original reporting. The kind of thing he wouldn't know about because he didn't check it out before oh-pining.

That is, I am trying to be constructive and informative in my response, which will also be quite critical.

I have three to start off with that I think I will use, two well known, one less so.

1.) Talking Points Memo's pursuit of the US attorney's story this spring and over time.

2.) Firedoglake at the Libby trial March 2007.

3.) Daily Kos community and the Sinclair Broadcasting dossier in October 2004.

I know of others but I welcome your suggestions. The more different they are the better.

Anything from science blogosphere we can include?

Dan Gillmor:

Here's the gist. Michael Skube, a former newspaper editor and Pulitzer Prize winner who's now a journalism professor, wrote an opinion piece for the LA Times in which he flays bloggers for alleged violations of journalistic principles. In this case, Skube writes, bloggers show little willingness to do serious reporting: devoting "time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance" to the topic.

But the piece cites Marshall, whose work is among the best journalism -- by any standard -- that you can find on the Web in any form, in a passing reference, as if he's one of the offenders.

Marshall takes this with careful calm, but then he reveals a stunning fact about Skube's "reporting" style. An editor inserted the mention of Marshall, and Skube -- who admitted to Marshall that he hasn't "spent any time on your site" -- let that run in the op-ed column. Marshall writes:

Josh Marshall:

Now, whether we do any quality reporting at TPM is a matter of opinion. And everyone is entitled to theirs. So against my better judgment, I sent Skube an email telling him that I found it hard to believe he was very familiar with TPM if he was including us as examples in a column about the dearth of original reporting in the blogosphere.

Now, I get criticized plenty. And that's fair since I do plenty of criticizing. And I wouldn't raise any of this here if it weren't for what came up in Skube's response.

Not long after I wrote I got a reply: "I didn't put your name into the piece and haven't spent any time on your site. So to that extent I'm happy to give you benefit of the doubt ..."

This seemed more than a little odd since, as I said, he certainly does use me as an example -- along with Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and Kos. So I followed up noting my surprise that he didn't seem to remember what he'd written in his own opinion column on the very day it appeared and that in any case it cut against his credibility somewhat that he wrote about sites he admits he'd never read.

To which I got this response: "I said I did not refer to you in the original. Your name was inserted late by an editor who perhaps thought I needed to cite more examples ... "

And this is from someone who teaches journalism?

Mike the Mad Biologist:

Granted, sometimes I report on a science article that's been released. But I hope no one thinks I'm doing straight reporting--at most, I engage that god-awful hybrid 'news analysis.' As I've written before, I'm just another guy with a blog offering opinions and something approaching analysis. Sometimes I even apply myself and reference stuff.

It's too bad that Skube doesn't realize that, at least based on his op-ed, that he too, is just another guy with a blog.

More like this

Anything from science blogosphere we can include?

What about the Dover Trial? It was before I was a PT reader, but I seem to recall that there was original reporting on the trial.

George Deutch uncovery by Nick is, in my book, the biggest scoop of the science blogosphere.

I dont think 90% of the bloggers out there even consider the idea of being journalists. Okay, maybe they consider it, but it's not what most of us are doing. Most of us are having a conversation. You know, hey, did you see this, where "this" is a link. Then we might talk about it a bit, like people are wont to do. Or maybe we simply talk without any links at all. The thing that most of the blogosphere offers is that those who we talk to can respond, immediately, without filters (more or less). Try that with your local paper. Personally, I dont think that bloggers reporting is as much of a problem as readers taking information given to them uncritically (from any source).

And really, if bloggers should compete with "real" reporters, so what? If reporters are not giving readers what readers want, maybe those reporters ought to look at themselves before lashing out at those who are obviously providing a service which the reporters are failing to provide.
Personally, I see blogging as more of process of filtering than reporting. A blogger separates the wheat from the chaff (at least, "wheat" in his/her opinion), and if readers trust that blogger, then they are successful and get read. If not...

As for research into issues that are affecting current events, there's Nick Matzke's research that "Of Pandas and People" in which "Creator" was changed to "designer" and "Creationism" was changed to "Intelligent Design".

And about a year's worth of other research.

Kathryn Cramer has uncovered some amazing things about international scams and dangerous free-lance covert agent losers. Since she also blogs for Wolfram Software, and expertly about the Science Fiction that she edits, I'd say that she's a triple-threat as a blog-journalist" Techie, Entertainment, and geopolitical. And, hey, her graphics made the cover of Nature!

Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have uncovered publishing and agenting scams.