The Difference Between Spin And An Angle
from the how-important-is-it? dept
This week, Techdirt got a lot of attention for pointing out the extraordinarily different takes on a speech by former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi from bloggers and a reporter from Reuters. If you read the different accounts, you would have sworn they were at entirely different speeches. Lots of websites picked up on that story and linked back to us – but now, former Reuters reporter Jeremy Wagstaff (who writes for Far Eastern Economic Review and WSJ.com – and on his own excellent blog) is taking me to task for calling the Reuters report “spin”. He says there’s a very important difference between “spin” and an “angle” and points out (absolutely correctly) that a journalist’s job isn’t necessarily to write up a summary of the entire speech, but to pick out the newsworthy point and write about that. He points to other press coverage of the same speech and notes that they all pick up on a different aspect of the speech. He also gives the standard reporter’s excuse about deadlines and how things accidentally “creep into” stories where they don’t belong. He points out (once again, correctly) that one of the nice things about blogs is that they give an alternate source for more info and context which the reporters don’t do (it’s not their job). These are all good points, and worth thinking about – but I still don’t take back my original comments. While a reporter’s job is to find out what’s newsworthy and write about it, that does not mean taking something out of context – which is clearly what was done with that Reuters article. If you listen to the speech, Trippi spends the entire speech talking about what a revolutionary force the internet is when it comes to politics. Whether you believe that or not, if you read the Reuters report, you don’t get that impression at all. You get the impression he blamed the internet. Giving people the impression of something that clearly was not being said is not an angle. It’s spin (scroll down to spin) – and Reuters should be ashamed.