What propaganda fears above all is truth

Fascinating piece from the Belmont Club, which indicates how much further down the road the discussion on blogging and journalism has got in the US. It posits the argument that journalism (and blogging) should be judged by the truthfulness of its content, not the literary style or panache with which it is written. Or indeed which paper it is published in – become something of a false trail in Ireland.Wretchard takes a report from a journalist from the Independent, Patrick Cockburn:

Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions. … The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.

Then he argues:

It is totally irrelevant to question Mr. Cockburn’s motives, intelligence or literary style. The only source of legitimacy that matters is whether Mr. Cockburn’s journal of events is accurate. If Mr. Cockburn’s description of Iraq as disintegrating proves true then his tidings, however unwelcome, will not be propaganda any more than reporting the sinking of the Titanic was. But by the same standard, most of Bill Roggio’s work at the Fourth Rail and Threats Watch will pass muster as legitimate journalism in terms of accuracy, his lack of regular press credentials notwithstanding. Mr. Roggio has written many accounts of operations in Iraq which have not been contradicted by subsequent events. The clear mark of a propagandist is one who consistently misrepresents events, allowing for occasional errors which every human being must make. Track record matters. The reason that John Burns of the New York Times may be better regarded than Robert Fisk is because Burns has consistently proved the better observer of events. Moreover, the longer the retrospective, the better Burns looks.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty