Friday, June 26, 2009

"Bloggers", the media and science reporting.

Sometimes I read an article that I just cannot understand. The words make sense, and I can understand the logical flow, but the entire premise just escapes me. Consider the following exhibit: an article in Nature News on the "problem" of blogging from a conference. A snippet from the article (which I recommend reading in its entirety):
By disseminating scientific results far beyond the lecture hall, blogging and social networking blurs the line between journalists and researchers. Scientists in competitive fields may be more reluctant to discuss new findings if they can be posted on the Internet within seconds.
and then later:
MacArthur's comprehensive postings were read by many scientists but they irked journalists attending the meeting. The meeting rules stated that reporters had to seek permission from speakers before publishing material on their work, rules that Cold Spring Harbor instituted in part because some journals, such as Nature, discourage scientists from talking to the press before their work is published. But those rules didn't apply to scientist-bloggers like MacArthur and, after he posted details from a few talks, reporters contacted Stewart for clarification on the policies. The complaint was a wake-up call: "For the first time, I became aware that people were blogging about the data at the meeting," Stewart says.
If I understand this correctly, the premise of the article is that blogging from a conference is bad because it
  • "scoops" the poor journalists under embargo ?
  • disseminates information faster than someone might like ?
to which my only response is "HUH " ? Isn't the whole point of a PUBLIC presentation to disseminate results to - you kn0w- THE PUBLIC ? and how on earth does it matter how fast this happens ? And although I feel for the journalists who agree to weird embargo rules by control-freak journals, why on earth should I, as a researcher who happens to blog from conferences, care about this ?

Sometimes I think the media needs to get over itself....
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