The problem with lies and half-truths

Jeff Javis writes a thoughtful post responding to the blanket criticism of "citizen journalists" following the false story of Steve Jobs’ "heart attack" on CNN’s iReport.

The main problem isn’t with citizen journalism, he says, but with credulous readers (and that isn’t a new problem).

we have to get better at giving caveats. As news rushes by, it is important that we make it clear what is and isn’t confirmed. We thought we were in the business of saying what we know in the news. But we’re more in the business of saying what we don’t know. I’ve often quoted Nick Denton’s definition of what we bloggers call “half-baked posts.” They say to our readers: “Here’s what we know. Here’s what we don’t know. What do you know?”

The "story" was corrected very fast by journalists contacting Apple for clarification, he points out.

The web, as it turns out, is almost as fast at spreading truth as it as at spreading rumors.

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