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< Ford Bell update | Main | The hottest issue in journalism right now... >

The blog/MSM dilemma

Posted at 4:00 PM on July 11, 2006 by Bill Wareham (1 Comments)

It's official now - Ford Bell has dropped out of the U.S. Senate race. That info is contained in an earlier post, and duly reported on MPR News broadcast and online services.

What I didn't mention earlier, though, was the rampant speculation before the announcement that Bell was dropping out of the race. The closest we got at MPR was Tom Scheck's Polinaut entry, which read in part:

I'm sure the Klobuchar campaign will be watching closely to see if Ford Bell is dropping his bid to challenge her in the DFL primary...

Even that made me a little uneasy, but it fell short of some of the speculative reporting elsewhere in the blogosphere.

DFLSenate had the entry: UPDATE: Bell dropping out confirmed, with pointers to MN Publius and Minnesota Campaign Report blogs. The trouble, at least to someone with an admittedly mainstream media mindset, is that neither of those blogs did really confirm it to my MSM satisfaction.

MN Publius reported:

I can now confirm beyond a resonable doubt that Dr. Ford Bell is, indeed, dropping out of the United States Senate race leaving DFL endorsed Amy Klobuchar as the sole Democratic candidate for the seat. There is still the possibility that we have been mislead about this story, but I think it is safe to say that come tomorrow Ford Bell will not be in the race.

No source attribution, and the admission that "we may have been mislead (sic)." From a traditional journalism standpoint, that's hardly confident reporting, but no worse than the Minnesota Campaign Report entry:

I was under the impression that it was embargoed, but hey, if MN Publius is breaking it, chances are you went there first anyway.

In a press conference today, Ford Bell will most likely announce that he?s backing away from Minnesota?s US Senate race.

The whole episode leaves the MSM journalist here scratching his virtual head. I mean, the three blogs cited above look like oracles when Ford Bell does drop out. But if he doesn't, what happens then? Does anybody notice? Because I know that if MPR put out information in that form and it later proved wrong, we'd get hammered. And, ironically, much of the criticism might come from the blogosphere.

There, that's my cranky MSM thought for the day. Have at me.

Comments (1)

It's not that terribly interesting, but if ou want to know, here it goes...

A few of us lefty blogs received an announcement that Bell was dropping out of the race, but the info was embargoed. Publius received their info from a different source. When they posted, MNCR assumed that the info was no longer embargoed and posted linked to Publius. Fecke of DFLSenate, who wasn't on the original embargoed list, saw the other posts and posted linking to them.

We do all respect the embargoed idea, but in some ways we mirror the MSMmore than we like - once one site has it the others feel it is okay to speak of it. It's like when no station wants to be the first to call an election, but once one does it, the others all jump right into place, for better or worse (insert scary election 2000 flashback here).

Feel free to email me if that didn't make sense or you have any other questions.

(powerliberal and dflsenate)

Posted by rew | July 11, 2006 9:10 PM