Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The MSM and those token gestures to bloggers

There have been two examples in the last 24 hours of what I would call token gestures on the part of the MSM towards us bloggers.

Sunday Times

The first, the more serious of the two, concerns an error in the Sunday Times, 29th October 2006. In a feature on that awful Corfu tragedy, in which 2 children died of carbon monoxide poisoning, it was confidently asserted , under the heading "Carbon Monoxide: the Facts", that the gas was heavier than air, and so built up as a layer from the floor.

That in fact is totally wrong - the gas is lighter than air- which I immediately pointed out here the same day, and then reproduced the short letter of correction that I sent to the ST the following day.

And then nothing happened, till last Sunday, 3 weeks later. I missed it, as I expect most readers did, because it appeared as a small item, at the botttom of "News in Brief" on Page 2. It read:

Correction The report "Lost to the Silent Killer" (Focus, October 29) incorrectly said that carbon monoxide was a heavy gas that built up from the floor to affect sleeping people. In fact, it is less dense -thus lighter- than air.

It was , in fact, an email from the ST Letters editor that alerted me to the fact that a correction had finally appeared.

But why did the corrction not appear, attributed, on the Letters page ?

Could it be because my letter included a link to this blog, saying that here was where the reader could find precise numerical data ?

Yes, of course it was self-publicity, but it also helped to keep the letter brief and uncluttered with numbers. So was that a mistake on my part?

And why the 3 week delay in making their correction for something that could have been confirmed on Google in a minute or two ? And why bury it on Page 2, column 1 ? An attempt to save face ?

Daily Telegraph

The second example is less serious, but it mentioned here, as a miniscule contribution to the sum total of blogging trivia.

Yesterday I sent a one-liner to Ceri Radford's latest post to her Telegraph blog. It was a somewhat crass response to her most treasured Hamlet soliloquy, and an even more irreverent swipe at the modern TV soap.

The box for entering one's text asked for one's "Home Page", assuming one had one. So I entered wondering what would happen.

Apparently nothing, at first glance. There was no visible reference to the URL. But on closer inspection, one noticed that one's name was in a microscopic pale-blue font, whereas others were in a grey. Clicking on blue names did indeed bring up one's blog. Fame at last !

That's a nice feature, but one that I suspect is little known outside the blogging fraternity. It's a token gesture, no more, to us. But it's so inconspicuous as to pose little risk of any casual visitor to the Telly's blogs being diverted away from the mighty Main Stream Media !

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