When Polimom started writing Polimom, Too at the Houston Chronicle last month, I expected to be fairly low-key. I am, after all, a “reader blog”, and I write opinion pieces.
I’m not a reporter, and I don’t work for the Chronicle.
So when, during the second week, I had a post get nearly 25,000 hits because it had run as the lead Google news story one day, I was floored.
Bloggers and their opinions have become news. Does that bother anyone besides me?
Evidently not, since there are some folks out there who are not happy that their sites have been dropped from the Google news indexer. NewsBusters writes:
Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.
The accusations – probably not unfounded – are that Google is censoring some of the conservative blogosphere because of hate speech. It seems that the sites being dropped from the news index are those that continue to deliberately inflame emotions against Islam via terrorism. However, as Booman Tribune says:
I have no doubt, having read some of the sites effected, that Google had good reasons to consider the articles hate speech. But I do wonder whether Google can craft a responsible policy that filters out certain types of speech without it becoming an arbitrator of political correctness.
Yes, one would think that Google could find a way to filter for certain types of speech. But is that enough? Given the recent hoopla as a result of Amir Taheri’s inflammatory (and debunked, and now weakly retracted) article about the Iranian dress code, I can’t help wondering what this new technology age is doing to the line between between fact and opinion. From Outside the Beltway:
One can reasonably argue that blogs, especially those which offer mostly opinion, shouldn’t be included in a news search engine. Indeed, I was dubious myself and actually somewhat sheepish about getting page one treatment right along with the New York Times and Washington Post given that OTB seldom has original reporting. Still, I would argue that the good blogs provide more utility that all but the best newspapers. Certainly, we add more than the hundreds of sources that merely provide AP wire stories.
Yes, the good blogs do provide a great deal (and I’d like to think that I fit that category…). But still…. the entire concept bothers me.
What do you think when you find something presented as news? Do you immediately put your bias filters in place? Or does the tag “news” give an opinion more weight than you might have otherwise assigned?
Given my concerns about propaganda, and related fears that misinformation is being fed into the blogosphere deliberately, I think we all need to be thinking about this.
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Update: The National Post has issued an apology (from CNN). Unfortunately, I can’t find the editorial itself online. Odd…