Traditional media losing the plot

When I was back in college we were expected to read and/or watch several sources of news daily. My Journalism-Print program even had a “Current Events” course requirement in which we would discuss, debate and be tested on – what else? – current events.

This was just before the Dawn of Blogs and the coining of the term “traditional” or “old” media. We still idolized journalists, figuring in our slightly hung-over starry-eyed student view that anyone who worked for a newspaper or major news network must be a Woodward or Bernstein.

We sat through class upon class about journalistic ethics, proper sourcing, how to get and cite quotes. And this wasn’t so long ago. In fact, I’m sure all major journalism schools still slip this into the curriculum somewhere … right?

But then why have I, who was once so convinced of the infallibility of the ‘Journalist’, begun to forsake the old news institutions?

Because of shit like this:

Marc van der Chijs

Marc van der Chijs

Yesterday Marc van der Chrijs (Tudou, Spil Games Asia, Marc.cn) tweeted a message on Twitter that he had been misquoted in an AFP article.

In and of itself, no big deal. I’ve been interviewed a good number of times, and rarely has the quote appeared verbatim. But following up on his blog I learned that this wasn’t just a rewording, or slight twisting of what he said. The AFP journalist Glenn Chapman, in writing an article about YouTube currently being blocked in China, lifted a long and in-depth quote directly from Marc’s blog, as shown below:

Marc van der Chijs, a Dutch Internet entrepreneur who co-founded Shanghai-based video-sharing website Tudou.com, offered another theory for the YouTube blockage in a Tuesday message on his website.

“I suspect the real reason might be that YouTube just launched a Chinese version, which would make the site much more accessible for Chinese users,” van der Chijs wrote.

“Not a very smart idea to do that in the middle of the National Congress, and I am surprised nobody at mother company Google’s China offices rang an alarm bell about this before launch.”

California-based Google bought YouTube in 2006 in a 1.65-billion-dollar stock deal.

“I don’t like sites to be blocked; even not those of our competitors,” van der Chijs wrote. “But, it will be an interesting discussion point for our Tudou board meeting tomorrow.”

Only problem is, that “Tuesday message on his website” was actually from a Thursday, not a Tuesday – oh, and October 2007, not March 2009.

From there it’s turned into some 21st Century journalistic version of Chinese Whispers, with Jane Macartney of The Times scooping the exact same quote off the exact same 2007 post. And while the AFP, having seen Marc’s post about their mistake, has re-issued the article with a correction announcement, several other media outlets are still running the story as-was.

Granted, word of YouTube being blocked, yet again, isn’t exactly hard news and probably doesn’t warrant the amount of footwork that an exposé on the corruption of government does. But blindingly painful gaffes like this do illustrate the cracks in the foundation of old media.

Journalists have long argued that “their” media is “real” media, and blogging and bloggers are just a collection of non-creditable amateurs writing about what they ate for dinner today. Well, I’m calling up the journalism program admin at my Alma Mater and suggesting they add “blog post date checking” to the course schedule. I imagine that Glenn Chapman and Jane Macartney will both be blogging about how they ate a rather humble tasting pie today.

More here at Shanghaiist: AFP pulls quote about Youtube block from two-year-old blog post