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High latency

A while ago, I said that the Technician used the newspaper format well, and I meant it. While it would be nice to have the Technician available in some kind of web format that wasn’t a pain to use, I probably still wouldn’t: dead tree form + 20 minute bus ride = slightly more tolerable.

But the way that the Technician seems to fail most transparently is in the “Campus Forum” section of letters to the editor. Where the paper itself must have some shred of journalistic integrity and publish researched facts, the Campus Forum allows J. Random Student to get it printed in the paper that, for example, Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party for ten years.

What’s that? This was a mis-reporting that some people (including the “lefty blogs”) picked up and ran with because they wanted to believe? But then, the primary source begins “backing off” his statement before the Technician even hits the presses but the claims are printed unadulterated?
(In credit to this guy, he mea culpaed this one, but the principle stands.)

Now I remember why we invented the blogosphere. Because this shit has got to stop.

Supporting me in this is that writeup I did last academic year about the “debate” over concealed carry on campus via the Campus Forum. Sure it was fun reading, but any counter you might make to an opponent’s argument would take 24 hours to take effect. (I’m actually hunkering down for round 2 of this; someone spontaneously contributed a letter in support of concealed carry in Thursday’s paper.)

And on the topic of that summary: in it, I noticed next to no citations for bold claims published in the Campus Forum. That’s not how they roll, I guess. So readers just had to hope that wild claims made in a letter to the editor (such as a VP nominee advocating secession) were backed up with facts. Because they sure as shit couldn’t just check the sources.

What else about the Campus Forum? Ah, right, no apparent factual editing, even for obviously wrong statements like McCain serving in the Army (where he flew his combat fighter that got shot down…). I suppose the “common carrier”, “we don’t filter, just transmit” argument comes into play here, but I don’t think most people realize that this means that any whacko can get anything published, facts be damned. My letter indicting Obama for his involvment in the Franz Ferdinand assassination is uploading now.

But my favorite part of it all is the schizophrenic feedback model of both letters to the editor and comments on the online version of the article. There’s nothing like the instant gratification of article comments to bring into sharp relief the outmoded nature of having to tender your letter by 5:00 pm to be included by the next day.

Then again, I’m the guy who reliably responds to a newspaper with a blog. Maybe I should see if the Technician would hire me as some kind of official blogger and web editor.

“What, and give up all this?”

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