Oh, what a deceitful web we weave

Anyone who uses the web for research knows it’s packed with misinformation, outright lies and gross distortions. People who have no earthly idea what they’re doing are cramming websites with “content” on critical subjects, supplied by people who have no expertise. Original reporting and fact checking are dying arts, not to mention that writing skills have completely gone to pot.

We should change his name to Webbio

Finding experts on any subject, asking the right questions, and then presenting the information clearly and concisely, takes hard work and long hours. Trust me. I’ve been a journalist, magazine writer and editor since I was 21.  I learned my skills from a great many talented editors, including Wighty Mardindale, Mary Merris, Manny Hoffman and John Fairchild.  It didn’t matter whether I was writing about something as fluffy as society women or as serious as a disease; every single statement, quote and fact had to be dead on.

All the articles we write for FOF comes from people who know what they’re talking about. They’re also original articles, not rehashed info from fifty other places. Our goal is not to shove as much content as we can on the site, but to present quality content.

It’s bad enough that there’s a proliferation of trash on the web. But when it spreads like wildfire, that’s really bad. Even the rabbi at Yom Kippur services yesterday told a fib when he quoted a 90-year-old columnist from the Cleveland newspaper on her life’s lessons. The lessons were cool, so I thought I’d blog about her, but when I dug a little, I discovered she’s 53, not four decades older. The rabbi didn’t create the fib; he simply read an article on the web that said she’s ninety, it serve his purposes, so he quoted it. Fortunately, the misinformation in this case hurt no one.

The web either has to get a whole lot smarter and selective or we’re going to continue to get a whole lot dumber. Remember when we had to document every paper we wrote in school with footnotes for our sources? Ben Bradley, honcho editor at The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, wouldn’t let Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein write a single word without double and triple checking sources. Back in the day, journalists also were scared to death to copy anything from anywhere or we’d be labeled plagiarists.

If we set high standards about the information we supply, we might be able to put a stop to all the pretend experts who have been born on this thing we call the web.

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3 Responses to “Oh, what a deceitful web we weave”

  1. Duchesse says:

    The misattribution that makes me see red is to spiritual leaders, such as t he Dalai Lama; people get a chain e-mail that promises “good luck” and contains someone’s words (not His Holiness’s), which they tend not to research.

  2. Ruth says:

    I suspect that the dumbing down was taking place long before the web was so deeply a part of our lives. Yes, misinformation abounds on the web, as it does in radio, on t.v., everywhere really, including the vaunted newspapers (remember the scandals? reporters ‘creating’ stories?) Perhaps it has as much to do with a failure in our culture, perhaps it has to do with a failure in ourselves…

  3. Toby Wollin says:

    And while we’re at it, let’s hold people like Fox Snooze, and Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck and Ann Coulter, etc. to the same standard. The whoppers some people tell on cable and broadcast radio is absolutely horrific. And because so many local outlets (newspaper, radio and tv) have basically been gobbled up or put out of business, the only stuff many people read or hear comes out of the mouths of people who wouldn’t recognize the truth if it came up and bit them. And politicians understand this – I read a quote from Sarah Palin that she advised her friend Christine O’Donnell (the Tea Party candidate who just won the Republican senatorial primary in Delaware) to not speak to, do interviews with, or answer questions from anyone but Fox.


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