12 March 2008

More Americans Get Their News ...

from political blogs than ever before!

At least, that's how I read this Harris Interactive press release.

Ellen Wulfhorst, from Reuters, read the same press release and her report (edited by Eric Beech, which separates it from blogging) is a classic work of press release stenography. The credibility of the journalistic account is actually less than the Harris Interactive press release, even though it's largely a work of stenography, because of what Wulfhorst (or her editor) added and omitted from the press release.

There are really only two differences between her report and the press release. Wulfhorst adds, "Unlike traditional, mainstream media, blogs often adopt a specific point of view." You won't find that in the Harris press release. This is entirely Wulfhorst's reported opinion. There are some interesting comparisons of blogs and "mainstream media" in the press release, but nothing to support "unlike us, they adopt a POV." (Pro-jo's believe in their view from nowhere.)

The second difference is Wulfhorst omits most of the methodology from the press release required to "conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls" boiling it down to "The poll was conducted online from January 15 to January 22 among 2,302 adults. Harris said it does not calculate or provide a margin of error because it finds such figures can be misleading." This makes the poll sound more credible than it actually is and Wulfhorst's account less credible after reading the actual methodology.

Here's my recommended lede as Wulfhorst's editor, "Political blog readership rose from 0% to 22% over the same decade that newspaper readership declined below 50%."

I'd also recommend that Reuters link to the poll. It's much more web-savvy than the non-linking, "regurgitate online what you print" press.

11 March 2008

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern

Oklahoma legislator's anti-gay comments stir hostile reaction

A Republican member of the Oklahoma Legislature has received death threats since telling a political group that "the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation" and poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism or Islam....

Kern said she has received more than 3,000 e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls since her comments were posted online. She said a few supported her comments but that most condemned them and that some contained death threats and obscenities.

"I hear what you said and you should be killed...," said one.
I found Kern's comments very offensive. I certainly thought it was offensive to say that American gays or lesbians are a threat to America. Or to imply that American Muslims are a threat to America.

In fact, I generally find it offensive when a group of Americans are labeled as a threat to America. American gays are not a threat to America. American Muslims are not a threat to America. American Jews are not a threat to America. Americans who are, or support, Republicans are not a threat to America. Americans who are, or support, Democrats are not a threat to America. The list goes on and on.

I know there are many culture war partisans that use rhetoric and imagery to imply this group or that group are a threat to America.

I'm considering writing Kern, without any profanity or threats. I thought this part of Victory Fund's open letter was very good:
This isn’t a partisan issue; I know plenty of Republicans who were outraged at your comments, because they themselves are parents, friends and family to gays and lesbians who are at risk when people of your stature say the kinds of things you did.
If I do write her, and tell her I found it offensive, I'm hoping for a better reply than, "Screw defending what I said. Other people can listen to it and form their own opinions, just as you have. You don't like what I said? Fine. Whatever. I don't care. I gave up trying to be all things to all people for Lent. Several Lents ago."