Over at examiner.com, where I am a photojournalist, there’s a lively thread regarding an article written by another examiner, who without citing her sources except as “anonymous” Laredo PD, wrote a piece of fiction about two ranches OUTSIDE the Laredo PD jurisdiction, being taken over by members of the Los Zetas drug cartel. One of the channel managers doesn’t seem to upset at the “reporters” lack of veracity, so, I answered with this:
According to Bob Owens, a blogger over at Andrew Breitbart’s biggovernment.com, the Examiner who broke “broke” the story is refusing to confirm her sources to him. Now, biggovernment is itself right wing, having been responsible for the destruction of ACORN through selectively edited video by James O’Keefe,(I should also point out, that ACORN has been cleared of wrongdoing, but the goal has been achieved) and caused the firing of Ms. Sherrod again by selectively edited video. Mr. Owens, while still blaming the Obama Admin. for the hoax, still calls everyone who promoted it:
Cypress News publisher John G. Winder is sticking with the story, not because any additional evidence has been produced, but because the two sources for his version of the story, blog Digger’s Realm and Examiner.com’s San Diego (CA) County Political Buzz Examiner blogger Kimberly Dvorak are standing by their militiamen and anonymous police sources.
The original Cypress Times story? A re-publication of the original Digger’s Realm story.
The Digger’s Realm story? Two anonymous Laredo police sources and a San Diego California Minuteman named Jeff Schwilk who claims he got his information from… an anonymous Laredo PD officer.
San Diego County Poltical Buzz Examiner Kimberly Dvorak? She claims her information also comes from two anonymous Laredo PD sources.
Are we noticing a pattern here? Every bit of of this claim, which has now scattered far and wide across the Internet, can be traced back to two anonymous police department sources of a police department that does not even have jurisdiction where the alleged invasion is taking place.
I read a wide variety of news sources, be they rightwing or left, as it makes more informed. I also know that as a blogger, a blogger that has been cited on NPR and CBS.com, I have to cite my sources if I am writing about an article I read, and provide a link back to that original article so my readers can form their own opinions.
IMHO, unless we are more scrupulous in citing sources, and not making up things our of whole cloth, examiner.com will become irrelevant.
Even for me, a mere photojournalist. While I do not have to get written permission to photograph a storefront, I seek a written release if I want to shoot the interior and anyone inside. I know, that I can shoot the exterior of Prudential Arena, and there is nothing that the security can do short of assaulting me. I know, that I cannot shoot inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, PERIOD, but it’s ok at NY Penn Station and Newark’s Penn Station. What’s the point of this? To illustrate that as reporters/citizen journalists, we have a responsibility to our readers not to gin up fears by posting fiction as fact.
You want to be a citizen journalist? Then, be one. You want to be a fiction writer? Fine, but don’t couch it as journalism