I read it online, so it must be true

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This deep into the digital age, you’d expect us take info posted on the Web with a grain of salt. But are we kidding ourselves thinking ‘old media’ sources are somehow more credible?

It’s been told several times already: blogs usually rehash news stories produced by old media. While the comments of the community are valuable in their own right, will we able to produce new news (sic)? In order to do that we need more access to original sources.

The recent Olympic games showed how economic interests cut us from bottom-up reporting direct from/close to the source (even official news agencies feared to be outed from the event!) How long will we keep official, accredited information channels? How do you balance business interests with the right for information?

Earnings conference calls, once reserved to analysts, started to be open to the masses just a few months ago. Now the SEC wants it to become the rule. Full disclosure of information related to public US companies is increasingly a reality (link added on 10/29/00, see also these, added 05/03/01), but that’s still far from the case here in Europe. And finances are just a small part of the public space.

It looks like an anachronism to have all these “for the press” sections on corporate web sites. What do you have to say to the press that doesn’t interest me? We don’t “press” anything so just talk to the public directly. Of course news professionals can spend more time than most of us on research, analysis and commentary, but let us be the judge of that. It’s not as if hard drive space was expensive. And I’m not that happy with most of so-called professional journalism either, if only because of the paternalistic “we know better than you” attitude.

12/20/01 update: Web Credibility Project, Evaluating the Quality of Information on the Internet.

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