Friday, June 8, 2007

Caught by the Web

To google or not to google?

That is not the question. The answer, after all, is "to google" -- to search a name online. That's now common practice in newsrooms (or should be. After all, I can only speak for what we do here about one of the many tools we use to gather information).

In the BEFORE TIME, you had to go to the library. In the NOW TIME, the library can come to you (Check out the Mid-Hudson Library System).

Nobody can deny how easy is to gather information on anybody online. It's scary, I know.
It also is amazing, for the same reason (which actually makes it more frightening).

As a tool to gather information, the Web is good because it makes it easier for us to do our jobs (after all, all the reliable sources have gone online as well). It also is bad because there is a lot -- and I mean a lot -- of horribly unreliable information that many tend to believe as fact (Wikipedia, anyone?).

TANGENT ALERT: What? You didn't know Wikipedia's user-generated database is unreliable? The site, in fact, is as reliable as what you hear on the street. Granted, a lot of the information is correct. But a lot is not. Translation: unreliable.

I can go on and on about the whole online thing, which is freaking out and (at the same weird time) exciting newsrooms around the country.

So we write blogs now. But we also are concerned that many other blogs -- especially the anonymous ones coming from a guy in a basement (you know the one) -- are not only giving you bad information but misrepresenting what the press reports.

Because of that perspective, I had a blog before we started this little adventure. Its only entry said, "Friends don't let friends write blogs."

The irony has not escaped me, believe me.
At least you can say that statement comes from a reliable source.