2 Apr 2009 8:27 am   //   Filed under: Hard times, Media

Bad news

Yesterday afternoon (after my post poking fun at Wired), there was a report of 20 people laid off at Wired.com. Turns out it was more like three. Or maybe it was mostly freelancers. Hard to say. Even Keith Kelly kept it vague in his column today.

The odd thing about the media covering the media is that there are fewer of us. Inevitably, coverage suffers. You need to get the stories right, and post lots of them, and post them fast. I do my best to keep standards high. I tend to avoid rumor stories of the Gawker template: “We’ve heard XYZ, but we can’t confirm. E-mail us if you know more.” Almost nobody ever e-mails in response to those queries. And when somebody does, they’ve often heard the same rumor from somebody who read it on your blog. I still feel bad when I post something that turns out to be inaccurate, so I work hard not to.

But with pressure to write good stories, and lots of them, something else has to give. These days I sometimes I take a pass on a good story just because it will be time-consuming to fact-check. In journalism school terminology, I might be accused of practicing “poor news judgment.” But in J-school they also taught us to fight management for bigger news budgets and spend as much as we could on good journalism. As if.