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Blog Nation embraces Rather after flaying him

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SXSW Grizzled Texan newsman Dan Rather received the warmest of welcomes from the grand blog felch that helped end his CBS career, during a speech today here at the SXSW conference and festival. The blogger nation found Rather's call for better US journalism inspirational, particularly when he chastised the candy ass reporters covering the White House.

"The journalism craft has degenerated into what I consider to be a very perilous state," Rather said.

"We have lost the sense, for example, that . . . a patriotic journalist will be on his or her feet asking the tough questions."

Rather harped on what many of you already know, which is that so-called mainstream media have become obsessed with access to officials in power. Reporters will hold back from charging after subjects in certain stories, if they think criticism now will hurt the chances of a fluffy interview later. Similarly, journalists will go easy on the criticism out of fear that their stories might make life difficult on the large conglomerates that own their publications or networks.

"Increasingly, journalists try to play it safe," Rather said. They think, "I know that this is true, but it's tough stuff, and, if I run this, I am going to pay a price for it. So maybe, I should just water it down a tad."

These problems affect technology journalism just as much as political journalism with many IT publications claiming the "fair and balanced" highroad while delivering bland, spineless goop.

The SXSW crowd loved Rather's tough talk even though they're blogging-mad and Rather has become the poster boy for angry bloggers' ability to destroy a person in power through their venom. The veteran journalist unceremoniously left CBS after the blog nation tormented him for presenting forged "Killian" documents that undermined President Bush's "service" in the US National Guard.

Rather called for journalists to liven their copy by calling out disingenuous subjects with firm language when the situation warrants it. Such an approach might result in a reporter stating flat out that someone is lying, if they've backed up that claim with fact.

"I think that kind of direct language might be preferable to the kind of sideways dance is so often done," he said.

We shall take that under advisement. ®

Bootnote

The bloggers greeted Rather with a standing ovation, deciding ahead of time that they'd forgiven his transgressions before he opened his mouth.

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