Funny thing happened on the way to the newspaper

A funny thing happened to some facts on their way to the newspaper this week. Last week, on November 23, I blogged on the slate of nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The night of the 24th I updated post with additional information for Michael Meehan to highlight that he was previously nominated by President Bush to the Board so that it read “…(previously nominated to the Board by President George W. Bush and a business partner of the husband of Judith McHale’s Chief of Staff ).”

A week later on November 30, Al Kamen of The Washington Post’s “In the Loop” graciously mentioned me as pointing out Meehan has a connection to the office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but did not mention the previous nomination.

Then today, the December 2 edition of “In the Loop” noted what my blog said for the prior week, that Meehan was first nominated by Bush. Where was the clarification that my post had that important data point Kamen’s researcher ignored?

For all the congratulatory email I received for the “In the Loop” mention, there was no noticeable change in the number of visitors to the blog – although digging deeper I found there were an unusual number of visitors from The Washington Post domain – so if I hadn’t known I was mentioned, I wouldn’t have known I was in one of the – if not the – most read gossip columns. Either not many cared about the Meehan-DiMartino connection or not many of Kamen’s readers follow the links he provides to read the source. There’s also the possibility that Kamen’s readers who care about public diplomacy already read this blog and knew the week before about the connection and the previously nomination.

The initial spin on the story was not surprising, the spin in today’s correction was. I’m implicitly portrayed as the one who did not write on Meehan’s previous nomination. Ah, the media.

3 thoughts on “Funny thing happened on the way to the newspaper

  1. Not to worry, Matt. He frequently gets in wrong. In item before his “correction” he got the date of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s demise wrong — by ten years!

  2. Matt, I recently updated a chapter I author in a national security reference used by our students. An extract is provided below. Your personal vignette at least helped verify what I’ve assumed for some time now.”Of course in an environment where the speed of breaking news means viewership and thus advertising dollars, accuracy is sometimes sacrificed as well. In a strange twist, mainstream media now turns increasingly to bloggers for their stories, and the most respected bloggers require multiple sources to verify accuracy. Consequently, the distinction between new and mainstream media sources becomes blurred, leaving it to the reader, already bombarded with information, to distinguish fact from fiction (or perhaps more accurately “spin” from context).”

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