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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I wonder what would happen if there was a blog editor - someone who compiled interesting blog entries. Or similar.

    I guess you'd end up with Slashdot or other such sites. =)
      ---ict / Spoon
    • ISTR reading a short piece in Wired, back in the 1.0* days when it was almost good. Under the title It's the context, stupid the author discussed just that idea, positing that there would be people who wouldn't produce new content but would instead provide a context, or a point of view, gathering 'the best' (in their view).

      And that's already happened. Slashdot's frontpage does just that, so does use.perl, so do the people who 'build' the frontpage at Perlmonks. And we value those people for it.

      I'm not sur
      • Re:Editors (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pudge (1) on 2002.04.17 5:26 (#7153) Homepage Journal
        [Warning: I got my degree in journalism, and I never took a class in computers in my life. If I am known to ramble about programming issues, which I never studied formally ... look out below!]

        No, it doesn't make them journalists. It makes them editors. Traditionally, editors all started out for many years as journalists. This is no longer the case. :-)

        As far as U.S. law is concerned, any publication falls under the "press," and entitled to First Amendment protections. But we don't look to U.S. law to define our terms.

        The Online News Association [], patterned after the Association of American Newspaper Editors, to uphold excellence and integrity among online journalists, doesn't define journalist or journalism, except in that it says journalism is about being a "source for news:" "ONA is open to journalists from around the world who produce news on the Internet and other digital platforms." I'd personally contend that a source is something more than just links and a slice of commentary, which is what most weblogs boil down to.

        However, ONA stresses, as their President said, "It is the job, and the not the environment, that defines who is eligible [to be a journalist]. You can't go by the site, or by our own opinion of the quality of the work."

        So should we care what ONA thinks? Eh, probably not. They are a product of J-schools, after all, and so are therefore biased towards more traditional journalism, even if they are on somewhat of a fringe of the field.

        I don't think this is all that difficult, though. It's not like pornography, that we can only know it when we see it.

        And while I don't appeal to dictionaries for authoritativeness, they can be instructive. Webster's says that journalism is "writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or descriptions of events without an attempt at interpretation." I think that definition kinda sucks. Journalism, even in its most strictly objective form, is specifically characterized by the interpretation of facts into a more easily digestable form for the readers.

        The most obvious example of this is the lead of any story. So there was a homicide bombing in Israel, and 12 people died, and it was in direct response to Israel's action earlier that day in Bethlehem, where 8 people were killed by the IDF in a fight. What is the first information you put in the first sentence of your story? What is the most important fact? Should you start with the homicide bomber, or the firefight at the Church of the Nativity? Further, which lesser facts do you include in the story, and which do you leave out? A journalist must interpret facts to write an effective story. The problem comes not in whether or not the journalist interprets, but what his motives are, what methods he uses, etc.

        But these don't even define journalism. The grandfather of American Journalism was Benjamin Franklin, and he wrote some of the most unfairly biased crap you've ever seen. :-)

        So anyway ... when I write a story for use Perl or Slashdot about what happened at a meeting at The Perl Conference, that is clearly journalism. When someone posts a link to a press release, and I approve it and post it, there is no journalist involved, just a few editors along the way. I think a better definition of journalism would be something along the lines of: the practice of researching facts and distilling them into a story that is then reported to an audience for the purpose of informing them about what happened and providing context for the events.

        All of those things are important: research, reporting to an audience, informing about events, and informing about the context.

        Most weblogs do not do significant research, they don't do much of the way of actually informing (except to report what others have reported, which just makes them an editor of sorts), and rarely provide context outside of personal opinion (which just makes them columnists, of sorts).

        Most of what I do in my journal that might resemble journalism is being a columnist or editor, like everyone else. Occasionally I will research a point, like one time when I wrote a piece about the Commission for Presidential Debates, and I went out and researched the CPD and quoted its members and pulled together a more-or-less cohesive article about how they block third party candidates from debates. It was opinion, it was a column, but it was also journalism, with engagement in research and distillation of facts to inform and contextualize an issue.

        Of course, journalism doesn't have to be about politics or "hard" news. It doesn't have to be about anything important at all. But it does require more than a link to the Guardian and some commentary about how stupid Americans are. ;-)
        • I would tend to agree with your definition. A perhaps more succinct one that I've often seen used here in France (admittedly in journalism, history, and politics courses or from people that follow them) defines journalism as the building of an event (la construction d'un évènement).

          The idea here is that raw data is unusable (there was fighting at the Church of Nativity, meanwhile my grandfather was snoring deeply and a beautiful cloud drifted accross the sky -- I'm overdoing it, but you g


          -- Robin Berjon []

        • Of course, journalism doesn't have to be about politics or "hard" news. It doesn't have to be about anything important at all. But it does require more than a link to the Guardian and some commentary about how stupid Americans are. ;-)

          That's unfair and you know it, Pudge. The Guardian makes fun of stupid Aussies too.

          • The Guardian makes fun of everyone, except the royal familty. Mind you, they didn't lower their flag when the queen mum went.
              ---ict / Spoon