News by any other name

Times Public Editor Byron Calame can make anything dull… including blogs. He sniffs around the edges of the Times blogs today like a mangy dog unsure whether even he should eat that smelly lump of something on the grass. He finally decides that he likes Dealbook — and even wants similar blogs on health care and science (with no explanation why they are so bloggable). But then he turns around and sniffs that it’s really not up to his standards.

Despite the service that DealBook can provide to Times readers, it’s important to remember that a couple of journalistic standards are being bypassed. And I think because of this, readers should use the new blog with care.

He makes a blog sound like a piece of heavy machinery you shouldn’t be operating when on allergy medication.

While the banner of The New York Times flies at the top of each page of DealBook, much of the information there hasn’t been verified or confirmed by the staff. In my mind, this is a fundamental departure from the way the rest of the paper’s content — except for wire service stories — is authenticated before it is published.

Whoa, public man. What I’d like to see you outline now is exactly how The Times verifies and confirms everything it prints. I’m sure many of us can point to many things that could have used a little more verifying and confirming. That’s the case for any newspaper. But Calame still believes in the shining newspaper on the hill that gets the facts, ma’am.

One serious concern I have is the tendency of The Times to give DealBook the aura of news. A link on the DealBook site describes it as “a new online financial news report on featuring up-to-the-minute news and exclusives about Wall Street and corporate America.” And the home page links to this question-and-answer segment: “Is DealBook a blog? Not in the traditional sense. It is less opinion and more news and analysis.” Come on, it’s a blog.

What, so that means if it’s a blog it cannot be news? Oh, gag me with a stick of hot type.