Misquoting in Print, Correcting in Blogs

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Via Jim and Antony I note that Tim Berners-Lee, the man that invented the World Wide Web, is complaining about being misquoted in The Guardian recently:

In a recent interview with *the Guardian*, alas, my attempt to explain this was turned upside down into a “blogging is one of the biggest perils” message. Sigh. I think they took their lead from an unfortunate BBC article, which for some reason stressed concerns about the web rather than excitement, failure modes rather than opportunities. (This happens, because when you launch a Web Science Research Initiative, people ask what the opportunities are and what the dangers are for the future. And some editors are tempted to just edit out the opportunities and headline the fears to get the eyeballs, which is old and boring newspaper practice. We expect better from *the Guardian* and BBC, generally very reputable sources)

His answer? Blogs!

And, fortunately, we have blogs. We can publish what we actually think, even when misreported.

He’s right, of course, and we’re only just beginning to feel the impact of that. For the last century or so, editors and journalists have been the ultimate arbiters of how people’s opinions appeared in print. The best a person who felt he had been misrepresented could do was write a letter to the editor and hope he designed to publish it. Or, if he had money, to sue for libel.

Now, an interview subject of any significance can correct the error on his own blog and have the results seen by nearly as many people as read the original. And, in the process, undermine the credibility of the original reporting. Is there an upsurge in journalistic standards coming? I hope so, for the industry’s sake.

BBCBloggingBlogsJournalismJournalistsmisquotingreportingThe Guardiantim berners lee

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.