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My next column for Newspaper and Technology magazine will take a look at the digital media’s rush to judgement, and how that yearning to be first can do more harm than good.

Competition among journalists is a hallmark of the profession. There’s nothing that the exhilirating feeling of getting a scoop, which is the ultimate reward for cultivating sources.

But there’s a big difference in the scoop mentality today. Just five years ago, the mainstream media could afford to sit on a scoop for a day in order to make sure every fact was iron-clad correct. Even in the days when cities had multiple newspapers, the deadline cycle meant journalists had most of the day to check facts, confirm information, and then check again.

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, with competition from entertainment sites and cable opinion shows, journalists now feel they have to rush to get information out as quickly as they can. This rush to judgement can lead to embrassing mistakes, mistakes that further hurt our credibililty.

I’ll have the full column posted in a few days.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

Tiger Woods. Two words that have media jump for joy. Forget about additional troops to Afghanistan, a double-digit unemployment rate and the health care debate. Tiger getting jiggywith other women and his wife apparently going ghetto on him sent the media in a tizzy. Tiger’s answer to it all: he pled for his privacy.

Through this entire melodrama, Tiger has been right about one thing — this isn’t anyone’s business but his and his family’s.

I’m a life-long journalist who strongly believes public officials and figures should be held accountable for actions that have a negative impact on the public. I argued that point and fought hard for that principal when I served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. But there’s something about this Tiger business that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

He did not squander public money. He did not embezel funds. He did not have an affair with someone who could impact legislation. He committed “transgressions” that may include having sex with women who are not his wife.

The advent of the 24-hour digital news cycle and niche celebrity sites puts the private lives of public figures in the spotlight — fairly or not. I just can’t help wonder whether the constant parade of stories about his or her affair ends up demeaning a profession that has so many other issues to tackle.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

Back after some time off.

There’s a lot of talk about government intervention in to help save the publishing industry. Some have suggested a subsidy for publishers so newspapers can keep operating. Some suggest the recent French program that buys newspapers and redistributes them. And there are a bunch of other plans out there, too.

This is simple: government can’t directly subsidize news or its creation. That’s got too many horns on it, and they’re obvious, so I won’t go over them here. But government can do one thing that would really help: provide a limited anti-trust exemption to publishers.

As it stands, publishers can’t get together and devise a unified strategy for surviving in a new digital world. They can’t set prices for their content on e-readers. They can’t, as a group, go to any news aggregator and set terms for content payment. If they try to get together and even discuss these issues, they have to lawyers in the room to make sure they’re not saying anything that gets them in anti-trust trouble.

It’s time to relax the rules — not eliminate, but relax. Publishers won’t be able to continue to provide information if they can’t talk about a future pricing model and how that works in this new world.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.