Recently in Journalism/News Media Category

Today's editorial in our local newspaper notifies readers that the publication will no longer issue endorsements for political candidates, ending what I assume is a decades-long practice that still exists at many - if not most - print media. [The practice of political endorsements by newspapers goes back more than 150 years, according to this fascinating analysis.]
On its Facebook page, the Midland Reporter Telegram solicits opinions as to whether it's appropriate for the media to endorse candidates for office. The responses weren't numerous, but they were unanimous in condemning the practice.
I don't care one way or the other. Whether it arises from a multi-person board or a single editor, a newspaper or magazine endorsement carries no more weight with me than that of any other reasonably informed individual. In fact, an explicit endorsement is much preferred from the more insidious implicit endorsements that often permeate a publication through biased reporting and slanted coverage of the candidates and campaigns. Figure out a way to end that and I'll support your Nobel prize nomination.
In fact, the on-the-record endorsements have often served as validation for my own positions, although perhaps in a different way than the publication intended. For example, it's almost guaranteed that when the New York Times endorses a candidate for office, that person's opponent will get my support. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the Times was Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952. It's hard to believe, but I was too young to vote.) In the unlikely event that that newspaper ever adopts a bias-free reporting philosophy (and hires a staff that can put it in place), my entire political strategy will be cast adrift*.
*Just kidding. I have no political strategy.
Our financial advisor is a fellow named Jim Cosner. Jim has impressed us over the years with his business acumen (our portfolio has done almost embarrassingly well during these, um, difficult times), integrity, and unflagging optimism. We meet about once a quarter to talk things over, get his take on what might be on the horizon, and strategize about how to deal with it. Well, by "strategize" I mean that Debbie and I feign understanding and nod semi-knowingly at everything he says, and then leave it all in his lap. It's an approach that has worked well.

Anyway, we met with him today and after the usual financial discussion, he said something along the lines of "man, do I have a story to tell you!"

Jim and his family have actually relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado, even though he keeps an office in Midland and spends a lot of time here. They bought most of a building, known as Penny Flats, near downtown. Penny Flats houses three of their family businesses. The building also houses residential condos.

On Monday, October 25, an apartment building next door to Cosner's building was torched in an obvious act of arson. That building was still under construction, albeit well into the process, so it was unoccupied. However, the conflagration was so intense due to the way the arsonists fueled their fire that it jumped across to Penny Flats and what wasn't destroyed by flame was ruined by water damage. Thankfully, there was no loss of life.

Here's where the so-called Occupy Wall Street "movement" comes into the picture. OWS demonstrators had been camping out in Fort Collins for a while, and last Thursday one of them, a beekeeper named Benjamin David Gilmore, was arrested and charged with the arson that destroyed both buildings. According to OWS organizers, Gilmore showed up for the protests in mid-October.

Recognizing that it's ill-advised to paint a group of people based on the actions of one individual, it speaks volumes about the reputation that OWS has created for itself when this alleged perpetrator is identified by the media first and foremost as being a part of that "movement." (I put the term in quotes because I doubt that there's enough collective sincerity, discipline, and wisdom to qualify it as such.)

You can read more about the fire and the Cosner family's reaction to it via this report, and details of the arson arrest are found here.

This is a story that deserves more attention than it's gotten, in my opinion.
Some random thoughts - serious and not-so - about "Weinergate," the latest example of how skillful a politician can be in shooting his own foot. If only Rep. Anthony Weiner were so competent as a leader.

  • The seductiveness of the internet to cause one to do stupid things cannot be overstated. It's worse than alcohol or drugs in causing otherwise reasonable (and I'll give Rep. Weiner the benefit of the doubt here) people to do things that in other settings they'd find sick and laughable. You know, like we who are looking at him now do. "It couldn't happen to me," you're thinking right about now. Yeah, sure.

  • But, I confess that I am sorely, sorely disappointed in the internet. What are things coming to when a grown man like Rep. Weiner strikes up an "illicit" conversation with a "26-year old female" and it turns out that he's actually conversing with a 26-year old female, and not a 48 year old bald guy in boxer shorts? Is nothing sacred anymore?

  • Oh, by the way, did you catch Matt Laurer's interview with Andrew Breitbart on The Today Show? There was the faintest whiff of an inkling of the beginning of grudging MSM acknowledgment that, well, a blogger can actually be a legitimate source of news reporting.

  • Morally, Rep. Weiner has some obvious shortcomings (we're not going to pander to the lowest common denominator and address any physical characteristics), but politically, his biggest weakness is an utter failure to lie convincingly. Did anyone in America buy his "I've been hacked" story? Nope. Even John Edwards did a better job. So, Rep. Weiner, next time you're in this position (and we'll never say "never," not as long as Andrew Breitbart is holding a few more cards), you'd do well to heed the advice of that great Texas sage, Delbert McClinton:

Remember my mild rant about the lack of critical thinking skills among students? It's not just students who are falling short in this area; some newspaper reporters appear to be challenged in this regard. Here's a quote from a story in the Los Angeles Times about the results of this survey (link to a PDF with the results of the complete survey; to take a shorter version online, visit this page) from The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:
If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."
That's pretty provocative...and inaccurate, given that the survey is as much about the cultural and political aspects of religion as the spiritual ones. Our former pastor, Dr. Jim Denison, does a good job of explaining why the survey doesn't measure what it purports to, and why analyses like those in the LA Times are misleading.

In an exchange on Facebook someone asked me how I would craft a survey to measure "religious knowledge." I said I haven't a clue, but I'm pretty sure there's no way to assess the results of the entire history of human beings searching for God. Further, I don't think there's anything to be gained by the attempt.

I do believe that people of faith should learn as much as they can about the history and tenets of that faith, and in an increasingly diverse society, understanding important aspects of other religions is also valuable. But for many of us, it's not about what you know, but Who you know. Being able to answer Bible "trivia" won't get you to Heaven, and having an intellectual grasp of the moral imperatives of the faith isn't important if you won't apply them in daily life.

"That's Oil, Folks!"
September 10, 2010 11:00 AM | Posted in: ,

I pretty much gave up on Texas Monthly years ago, when Molly Ivins exemplified the magazine's left-staggering slant on, well, just about everything. (Plus, they were rarely charitable toward my beloved Aggies, and way too benevolent toward our arch-rival, Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned.) The downside of that decision, however, is that I miss out on some pretty good reporting and writing, especially in non-political arenas. Thank goodness for the interwebs.

Case in point is the September, 2010 issue with a story about the West Texas oil drilling b**m that we're now experiencing. (I'm superstitious about using the b-word.) Writer Skip Hollandsworth does an excellent job of describing how an oil play (in this case, the so-called Wolfberry) goes from theory to actuality, providing not only the technical details but also the human side of the story.

And it's that human side that really makes the article interesting, especially to those of us who have lived in Midland for years. We have personal connections with almost everyone described in the article. They're our co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members, and occupy the adjoining booths at IHOP, and Hollandsworth nails their personalities without exception. (The only quibble I have is where he describes Dennis Phelps, a former co-worker at ARCO, as having "the charisma of an accountant." I, of course, am an accountant (by education, at least), and like to think that I'm more charismatic than a petroleum engineer. I'll let you decide how charismatic that really is.)

You can read the article online at the link I've provided above, but I also recommend reading the web-only interview with the author (Made in Midland). Hollandsworth contrasts the stereotype of the Texas oilman (e.g. J.R. Ewing) with those he met in Midland, and the local guys come out winners by a long shot.

That's not to say that the players in the Midland oil scene don't have their eccentricities and foibles. I could tell you about one prominently featured character who set his clothes on fire with my welder, or another whose pet goat could frequently be found standing atop our car, but I'll save those stories for another day.

The real point is that you'd be hard-pressed to meet better people than those working the West Texas oil patch today. And, for Midland, that's pretty much everyone.
Last month I wrote about a few things that I thought would improve life in Midland, Texas, including the elimination of the weekly "around Texas" section of the Midland Reporter Telegram. I'm under no illusion that my comment had anything to do with it, but I was pleased to open this morning's paper and find a new section entitled Names and Faces: A roundup of community, society, and philanthropy in Midland.

In my admittedly uninformed opinion, this is the kind of content that a local newspaper needs to focus on in order to draw readers. We have lots of other options to get state, national, and international news, but almost no options for local coverage. Whether this exact format or specific content is sustainable remains to be seen, but I find it more interesting and informative than a section of columns and reports pulled from other newspapers* concerning topics that often have no direct local appeal.

I'm sure that filling a section of local coverage each week represents a significant commitment of resources, and I appreciate the MRT's willingness to commit those resources. I hope the experiment is successful.

*Exception: This may seem illogical, but I do see value in the MRT's reprinting of selected reports from other West Texas newspapers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is going to make BP "pay salaries of oil-services workers who lose their jobs as a result of the spill." This follows on the heels of Obama's interview with NBC's Matt Laurer this morning in which the Butt Kicker-in-Chief got all businesslike and stern, and used the A-word on national TV to show how serious he is in, well, being serious about this whole oil leak thing. If he figured that using that language would make him look more leader-like and even presidential, I'm afraid he's in for a surprise. And it really didn't do anything to get the well plugged faster.

Anyway, let's get back to this thing about oil-services workers losing their jobs and BP having to pay their salaries. If I understand things correctly, the administration is going to put a six-month (at least) moratorium on a bunch of offshore drilling, which should directly correlate to a loss of jobs for people who actually depend on that drilling for their livelihoods. So, in effect, the feds want to tax BP to fund their program, a program which, by the way, was not supported by the majority of the engineering experts assigned to review the situation. I'm no Constitutional lawyer, but I suspect there are some issues ripe for arguing in that scenario. If nothing else, it's an example of just how weird things are getting.

Am I the only one who senses that the administration is seeking nothing short of the bankruptcy of BP? Thus far, according to the WSJ article, BP has not denied a single claim and has paid out nearly $49 million to fishermen and small business owners. To my knowledge, the company hasn't waffled a bit in owning up to its responsibility for making things right, however long and however much money it takes. And yet the level of hostility in Washington, D.C. towards BP seems to grow exponentially. Some financial experts are directly attributing today's 16% drop in BP's stock price to Obama's remarks on The Today Show.

I fail to see how putting BP out of business is going to help anyone or any part of the situation.

At some point, there may well be a need for punishment to be doled out, but I don't think anyone knows enough now to even talk about kicking a**.

Gulf Oil Leak Perspective
May 12, 2010 6:01 PM | Posted in: ,

Last Sunday's newspaper carried a letter to the editor from a prominent local oilman in which he chastised the news media for continuing to report the volume of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico in terms of gallons instead of barrels. He apparently believes that this is yet another attempt by the media to sensationalize the extent of the leak, thereby casting the oil and gas industry in a bad light. I'd link to the letter but for some reason the only letters on the paper's website are from the prior Sunday. Anyway, my recollection is that the writer closed by sarcastically suggesting that the media should report the spill in terms of teaspoons if they really want to sensationalize things.

Normally, I'd be the first to jump on the "media bias" bandwagon, but in this rare instance, I think the writer is wrong. First, there's just no way to sensationalize a disastrous situation like this, unless you try to compare it to the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, or Britney Spears's comeback attempts. An oil slick hundreds of miles in area that has the potential of destroying an ecosystem and a generation of people who depend upon it for their livelihood is, by definition, a Very Serious Thing, and it's a useless distraction to argue about the metric by which it's quantified.

But second - and here's my real point - there's no reason to fault the media for describing something in terms that the average reader/viewer/listener can relate to (especially if it's also accurate), and, frankly, nobody knows what a barrel of oil looks like. I worked in the oil business for 25 years and I never saw a barrel of oil, outside of a museum display set up to show what a barrel of oil looks like because no one would know otherwise. I've seen plenty of 55-gallon drums of chemicals and other products, but never a physical 42-gallon barrel, and I'll bet I'm not alone.

The barrel is an abstraction, an arbitrary volume agreed upon back in the early days of the oil industry (before the term "Texas tea" had any meaning whatsoever), according to my extensive research (well, I did read an article from Wikipedia). And while I'm sure that originally there were actual 42-gallon barrels (I'll have to go back and watch There Will Be Blood again), I'm pretty sure that no one alive today actually witnessed that. On the other hand, everyone can relate to a gallon - we've all seen gallons of milk or gasoline or cheap wine - so it's only natural to use that as a way to describe an oil spill or leak.

A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, and a Rhode Island-sized layer of oil on the ocean's surface described in any other terms is just as disastrous. Oops...there I go, sensationalizing again. Besides, who how big is Rhode Island, anyway? I think we have bigger counties in West Texas.
There's an interesting debate going on over at PDNPulse regarding "stylized photojournalism," which essentially involves the application of special effects to news photographs to "enhance" them or to emphasize a particular point of view.

The debate is between purists who tend to believe that the camera should be used to capture newsworthy scenes without any additional manipulations, and those who feel that post-processing of news photos is a legitimate journalistic technique that will help the observer better understand the implications of the scene in question.

This is really just an extension of the ongoing debate over whether journalists should be bringing agendas into their reportage, and if you believe that there's no place for this, then you'll side with the purists. And that's the end of the spectrum I tend to gravitate toward, but not unequivocally.

The problem with photojournalism is that it can never absolutely reflect reality (reality being defined [by me] as what could be observed by the average human being if he was present at the event being recorded). Even the most seemingly straightforward photo captures an instant in time, inevitably breaking the overall context of the scene; life isn't a series of discrete events, it's a continuous ever-changing stream.

In addition, the vast majority of photographs involve cropping the scene - removing portions from the photograph that the naked eye of the human observer would otherwise perceive. Again, this inevitable cropping removes context. It's perhaps not significant, but we don't know, do we, because we're relying on what the photographer chose to show us.

The arguments of the purists are a slippery slope. Should the photojournalist completely dispense with a shortened depth of field? The human eye certainly doesn't see things that way. What about sharpening or improving contrast or color saturation? Are black-and-white photographs taboo?

I understand the point the purists are trying to make: techniques that make a photograph communicate a message that's different than the actual scene hurt the credibility of photojournalism. But figuring out where to draw the line is something that's hard to bring into focus (no pun intended).

Slow News Day?
March 3, 2010 4:33 PM | Posted in: ,

I have a subscription to the online version of the Wall Street Journal and I subscribe to an email list that sends three news updates each day: morning, noon, and - wait for it - evening. Those updates usually lead off with breaking stories about events of widespread interest - you know, disasters like earthquakes in Chile or Charlie Rangel in Washington, and economic/financial news of import such as the content of the latest Fed Beige Book* or Tiger's dwindling sponsorships.

But today must be a slow news day, because the noon update led off with this story - A Game of Tag Breaks Out Between London's Graffiti Elite (think Hatfields and McCoys armed with Rust-Oleum)  - and the evening wrap has this in the lead: Should This Move Be Banned? (an article about a "devastating penalty-kick" employed by the Brazilian World Cup soccer team). This had the effect of pushing down more important news like the status of Mideast peace talks ("promising and yet inevitably failing") and Leno's whupping of Letterman on his first night back ("promising and yet inevitably failing").

I'm not complaining, mind you (although I am eagerly awaiting a report of a devastating penalty kick delivered to Letterman; now that would be news). But it does make one wonder if the Journal is going for a different image, sort of a "Drive your Veyron to a 7-11 for a raspberry-lime Slurpee" vibe.

*"Beige Book"? Talk about someone whose image could use some sprucing up.
I apologize in advance for another political post, especially to those who don't care about the Texas governor's election, but politics are like a tarbaby...once you get a finger in the mess, it's hard to make a clean break.

In case you haven't heard, Debra Medina's interview on Glenn Beck's radio program yesterday turned out to be an absolute train wreck, both for her and for Beck (although she had a lot more to lose than him, given that he specializes in causing train wrecks). If you missed it, you might want to take a moment to read the transcript posted on Beck's website. I'll wait here.

*whistling* *thumb-twiddling* *heel-rocking*

Pretty cringe-inducing, huh? Now, take a look at what Medina meant to say.

This stands out pretty clearly:
I have never been involved with the 9/11 truth movement, and there is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11. I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way.
In order to get a true assessment of the damage done to Medina's campaign for governor, contrast the preceding statement with the Associated Press headline that appears today in newspapers around the state: "Governor candidate Debra Medina: 'Good arguments' US involved in 9/11." While the phrase "good arguments" in that headline are indeed taken directly from Medina's comments, they are also removed from the context that she provided for them: she isn't in possession of all the facts about 9/11, and citizens have the right to question the federal government about everything. She goes on to say that she's not taking a position due to her not having all the facts, and, further, that the issue is irrelevant to the Texas gubernatorial campaign.

Medina's appeal to me all along has been twofold: her passion for state's rights and strict adherence to the US Constitution, and the fact that she's not a career politician. Unfortunately, the latter factor proved to be detrimental yesterday as she gave an unpolished and, frankly, a bumbling answer to a question that someone more experienced would have quickly dismissed. She compounded the problem by going on a tangent about screening her staff that served only to make her sound evasive and unsure. Having heard her speak in person, I know that neither of those descriptions are accurate, but given the absence of nuance in reportage, they're damaging beyond estimation.

The Texas blogosphere is hotly divided today between those who are defending Medina as being honest almost to a fault, and the victim of a nasty, carefully planned setup by Beck, and those who feel that we're at last now seeing the true candidate, an unskilled person in over her head and aligned with fringe political elements.

To me, this was a gigantic misstep for Medina, one that will hurt her already slim chances of getting elected. I was disappointed at her response (while at the same time being outraged at Beck's behavior; but then, he's not a journalist, he's an "entertainer," although his idea of entertainment and mine aren't even in the same universe), and I'm not sure there's enough time before the election for damage control.

Even worse, it's a distraction from the really important issues that should be driving this election:  ensuring that Texas continues to be a leader in preserving and honoring the constitutional rights of states, and ensuring that private property owners in Texas are not overly burdened by governmental interference. To the extent that the Beck interview damages Medina's chances to make that happen, we'll all be losers.

Super Bowl Thoughts
February 8, 2010 2:31 PM | Posted in: ,

Drawing upon the documentary film Airplane!, my reaction to yesterday's Super Bowl MMCXLVIIIXI was that I picked the wrong day to quit live-blogging the TV ads. It would have been so easy to assign the coveted Ant Ratings. There were about 30 1- or 2-Ant ads, and only two that I thought were worth watching again.

My favorite occurred near the beginning of the game. It was the Doritos dog shock collar ad. I always like to see mistreated canines wreak revenge on their tormentors (and gain the Doritos in the process). My second favorite was the Volkswagen "slug bug" ad, which was entertaining throughout but hit the perfect note with Stevie Wonder calling slug on Tracy Morgan at the very end.

I'd give an honorable mention to the E*Trade "milkaholic" baby ad.

The ads were as forgettable as I expected, although in hindsight, I don't think they reached the same level of sleaziness as in past years. GoDaddy's ad strategy continues to mystify me. I have a hard time believing that they're hitting their target audience with those ads, and even if they do succeed in driving a ton of traffic to their website (which is generally one of the marks of a successful ad campaign), I doubt those clicks turn into revenue. I continue to believe that GoDaddy's founder, Bob Parsons, is just a DOM who likes hanging out with cute young chicks. But,'s his $2.5 million per thirty seconds and if that's how he wants to spend it...

Actually, the edgiest ad from a sexual content perspective came from a completely unexpected source: Motorola. Megan Fox (Megan Fox!), pondering the effect of posting a photo of herself in the bathtub, with the result being several scenes that no parent really wants to try to explain to a ten year old.

The Focus on the Family ad with Tim Tebow and his mom was sweet and funny, and the controversy about airing it seems to prove that some people are simply born to be offended.

The one glaring aspect of the broadcast yesterday was the glaring product placements that CBS inserted at every turn. It even extended to the halftime show. Think it was coincidental that The Who played the theme songs from all three CSIs? Their discography has hundreds of songs and yet those three were prominently featured. (Yeah, I'm just bitter because Magic Bus is my favorite Who song.)

Speaking of music, Carrie Underwood's rendition of the National Anthem was spine-tingling...up until the last note. Yikes. Still, I nominate her for next year's halftime show.

However disappointing the ads were this year, the game itself more than made up for them. Going in, I had no skin in the game, not really caring too much who won, but expecting to see a well-played game by the two best teams in the NFL. Well, if you put my feet to the fire (I have very tender feet, you know), I'd have leaned slightly in the direction of Nawleans, for the obvious sentimental reasons. When the Saints went down early by ten points, I thought, "oh no, another overhyped game ruined by expectations," but that was obviously premature.

I felt bad for Manning, throwing that late interception, but he's had his day in the sun and Drew Brees was on fire. It was just his time, and he made a fine and gracious victor.

I can't help wondering, though, what Indianapolis would have done had they scored a touchdown instead of throwing the game losing interception. Would they have taken the safe way out and kicked the extra point, and hope to win the game in overtime? Or would they have considered how absolutely unstoppable Brees had become, and not wanted to gamble their season on a coin toss...and thus gone for two points? We'll never know, of course, but if the tables had been turned, I suspect the Saints coach, Sean Payton, would have gone for two. And, no doubt, made it.

Of course, in closing, I'd just like to remind the Saints and their fans everywhere of one little fact: the Cowboys still kicked your rears in your own house. I'd like to think that that game provided some education that led to your ultimate victory. No need to thank us. ;-)

Beck Fisks Huffington
February 3, 2010 9:42 PM | Posted in: ,

Back in the Golden Years of Blogging, around 2001, a practice known as "fisking" came about, and it provided many hours of enjoyable snarkiness. If you're relatively knew to blogging, or if you have an actual life, you may not be familiar with the term, which is defined on Wikipedia as:
A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or hand-waving is considered poor form.

I don't see much fisking nowadays (which could be attributed to the fact that I don't spend much time reading political blogs) and I miss it just a bit. So it's good to know that the practice hasn't vanished completely, and in fact has been adopted by the edgier members of the Legacy Media.

Following is a clip of Glenn Beck applying a proper fisking to the infinitely annoying Arianna Huffington. Now, I'm not a big GB fan; his style occasionally approaches the Infinite Annoyance that Huffington has somehow managed to exceed. Nevertheless, our ideologies have much in common, and he's an equal opportunity skewerer when it comes to calling out chumps on both sides of the political aisle (and, believe me, there are plenty of them...enough to fill out, say, a whole branch or two of federal government). And, as he shows in the following video, Beck knows how to administer a proper fisking. Enjoy. (Link via Little Miss Attila)

Broadcast Media Hypocrisy
December 8, 2009 8:36 AM | Posted in:

I watched a couple of national news shows this morning (NBC and CBS) and both of them devoted a major chunk of coverage to the "breaking news" about goings-on in the wacky world of Tiger Woods. They spent a lot of time rehashing the golfer's alleged infidelities, and dissecting every possible aspect of this morning's ambulance run to Tiger's home.

I don't have any problem with the coverage, even though I'm tired of the whole story. But what struck me as more than a little hypocritical was the way both networks referred to the "tabloid" aspects of the media coverage, as if those seedy print publications were guilty of sensationalism, while the broadcast giants were simply providing good and decent journalistic services.

In this instance, the only difference between the two forms of media is that the tabloid publications at least serve a useful purpose if one has a bird cage or fish in need of wrapping.
Say, if you have just a minute or two, go read this article about Lance Armstrong's bicycle crash and broken collar bone, and then come back here. We'll wait...

*annoying tuneless whistling signifying a break in the action*

That was quick; you're a good reader, aren't you? So, did you notice anything unusual about Ciaran Giles's report?

How about the fact that it referred three times to "Twitter feeds" as the source of information about the crash?

Lance's crash came across the Twitter wire about 22 hours ago (in Twitter Time), almost simultaneously via feeds from Team Astana (@TeamAstana) and teammate Levi Leipheimer (@Levi_Leipheimer). A couple of hours later, Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel (@johanbruyneel) confirmed the nature of the injury, and The Man himself (@lancearmstrong) reported in a few hours after that, following his visit to the hospital. Since I had earlier subscribed to all of those feeds, I knew what was going on well before it hit the MSM. (I even got to hear about Lance's and Johan's evening snack together at Bruyneel's home -- cheese, crackers, and wine, complete with a photo of the wine bottle's label -- via Twitter. (OK, so that last part isn't compelling journalism, but it is real life.)

These are fascinating times from a media perspective, where the news makers are also the news reporters. Questions arise -- How do we know, for example, that anyone on Twitter is really who they claim to be? And what level of trust should we place in those reports? -- but they're not really new, just repackaged. What's new is that on-the-scene reporting can now take place with a delay of only seconds, and that reporting can completely bypass the traditional media outlets. In addition, the exclusivity of access is no longer an asset owned solely by the traditional media.

When newspapers start quoting Twitter feeds as their sources, it's a sure sign that one medium is going to flourish at the expense of the other. I'll let you guess which is which.

Update: A more informed and eloquent take on the whole issue is here; link courtesy of Deb over at Write Lightning.

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