Alinea

By Anne Armstrong

Blog archive

To cover the Kundra résumé issue or not to cover, that is the question

There has been a great deal of buzz about the new media, especially from this administration, which has included them in press conferences and treated them as equal members of the press corps.

The public, in general, has indicated that it does not value  the role journalists have traditionally played of verifying the accuracy of information in a story. (Hope I do not sound old and bitter.) We all remember Woodward and Bernstein needing two sources to run with a story. The new view is that the Web is self-policing and the wisdom of crowds will eventually win out.

As a result, we have a whole new class of journalists -- the bloggers, who do not subscribe to the need to verify before publishing, but who believe if they publish and it is incorrect, some one will correct it -- the Wikipedia approach to news.

Today, we had an interesting example of the issues that approach creates. John Dvorak, a former editor of PC Magazine and a well known blogger, posted an entry questioning the credentials and experience of Vivek Kundra, CIO of the White House.

Links to the blog post started flying around the industry. I got several emails with it. When our editorial folks tried to get a comment from the White House or OMB, they were told the administration talked with the bloggers to “set the record straight” in the blogosphere,  but they wanted  to talk FCW  out of doing the story because “you’re a real news organization.”

The OMB communications person said AP, the Washington Post and others had been calling, and that they agreed that there was no story.  Mission accomplished from a PR point of view.

FCW’s editor, David Rapp told the OMB spokesman that it was their quotes to the blog Gigaom that legitimized the story.

We checked it out. The allegations were false. But we can’t ignore something that is being circulated widely in the community. We had to write the story and explain the accusations and the facts.

I was fascinated in the different ways the White House treats the different media.

About the blog post, which is too long, poorly edited and has been corrected after everyone else checked the University of Maryland credentials, I thought it was interesting that Dvorak thinks working in industry provides experience and credentials, but working in state and local government does not.

From my experience, I can assure him, there is lots to learn in state government and you earn plenty of battle scars. What an interesting parochial point of view.

But he successfully got all of us to do the checking of the facts. So maybe it is a brave new world.

Posted by Anne Armstrong on Aug 14, 2009 at 12:10 PM


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