Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's well over half anyway

"Blogging is entirely negative, entirely cynical", you don't think you were guilty of generalizing overmuch there John Waters? The reason that a great deal of blogs are negative is that they are often reacting to what passes for News in the modern media world and much of it is terribly sloppy. And all produced by the journalists that John holds in such high regard.

According to Waters there is fact checking in journalism. Is there now, like the person who wrote an article for the Village a few years back about the changing role of the news presenter and when profiling the main news anchors in the US referred to Peter Jennings as "still going strong". The man had been dead for a while at that point and for many months have been publicly battling cancer. I emailed the magazine to ask about this quite awful oversight and never received a response. They must have thought I was going to pay them again to read a correction. I did as it happens read a few later copies of the magazine that others had bought but there was no sign of an acknowledgment of such a glaring error. More recently trivially, in a recent copy of Magill just before Christmas there was reference to Mick McCarthy taking us to the quarter finals of the World Cup in 2002. When John was challenged on his percentage figure for the amount of pornography on the Internet, he was unable to cite any source for it other than it being common knowledge and he finally retreated into saying it was well over half. Common knowledge is a great old thing and it has proved so flexible over time. We have folks saying MRSA is down to the gays and it was equally commonly known that black people are great singers but can't swim so well. And let's not forget that old common knowledge that Jews drink babies blood as part of passover. So much for fact checking in journalism John.

Even more worrying in the debate was John's attempt to link the Internet with suicide clustering in Wales. The area in Wales has high rates of unemployment and yet we have a MP talking about people killing themselves because some site allows people to leave tributes to friends who have died. That the site is called Gone Too Soon appears to have slipped the notice of the MP and John Waters. Why not a ban on memoriam cards if remembering people is an encouragement for suicide? Next we'll have columns from Waters blaming people who instruct children in reading and writing for giving kids notions about their lives that may leave some dissatisfied with their lot.

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