This past Sunday, Mike Fleming of Variety.com wrote an editorial on his distaste for the blogging generation taking over the way entertainment news is broken. A site I have recently been visiting, ScreenRant.com then put up retort to Fleming's article by Kofi Outlaw, that is definitely more PC than the writing tone on Behind the Hype. Check out Kofi's article if you want to read a thorough, yet soft, take on Fleming's original piece, or stick around if you want to read my "less than soft" two cents.
Below I have either quoted Mike Fleming directly or summarized his position, and then added my own comments. A direct quote is denoted with italics. Enjoy!
Mike Fleming: ...bloggers don't wait for confirmation
Does the "news" always wait for confirmation? I guess when you talk about a pet chimpanzee attacking a human or the mother that gave birth to 8 kids for an entire week, you don't really need confirmation. Any errors that come up, you can just fix as the "story" progresses, right?
Fleming references that last Tuesday (3/17/09), bloggers were so quick to jump on the death of Natasha Richardson, that they reported it too early. So this is something that only bloggers do?
I guess Mike's history is a bit off, since he doesn't remember the infamous Dewey Defeats Truman headline from the Chicago Tribune in 1948. How 'bout the newspapers that proclaimed the Titanic had actually been saved in 1912? Going too far back? OK. How 'bout the Sago Mine disaster in 2006, where actually only one miner survived, but many news sources were so quick to getting information out that they reported only one miner died?
Mike Fleming: I watch sites showcase stories of directors simply taking meetings on projects with no deal in sight. Is that news?
Mike, get down from your ivory tower - it's hard to hear you down here with all the losers and nobodies. I'm really sorry that this is not "news" in your book, and yet every major news source in America (CNN, LA Times, NY Times, etc) has an even less clear idea of what the news is. When is the last time you watched the evening news, and didn't think entertainment first?
Mike mentions a case where a studio asked that he hold back a story about Brad Pitt not taking a role until it played out, and he was later called out as being in the pockets of the studios.
That's absolutely the case, Mike. When the content of the news is deciding when the news should break, and not the medium reporting the news, then we don't call it news - we call it a press release.
Mike Fleming: Sometimes I wish there were more points of view from showbiz bloggers. Too many of them have taken the same tone as they blur a line between objective reporting and opinion [Note: bold used to emphasis only]...Some bloggers seem to prize pummeling each other more than gathering news.
I am sure Mike took statistics, but I would just like to educate the rest of us. Correlation is not causation, and you can't take a sample group and call your friends objective. Meaning, we can't take a sample group of blogs that Mike visits, and say, "Based on the way these blogs report the news, this is how all blogs report the news."
Not happy that some sites give opinion, while others give objective reporting? That's fair. What...exactly...is this article, Mike? You are bothered by subjective reporting, and yet this article is as subjective as they come. Did you talk to site owners to get their methodology? Was there one shred of research done before you published? Furthermore, what kind of news do people break in the entertainment world anyhow?!
Mike Fleming: As showbiz bloggers are struggling to find their voices in the new medium, maybe it's time for turning down the stridency, and writing with a little compassion.
OK, I gotcha, Mike. You just want a little compassion - can't we all just get along, right? I hate to break it to you, Mikey Mike, but when someone decides to be a public figure, there is a level of scrutiny they will naturally have to put up with. When someone is in the spotlight, there are certain luxuries they know they are giving up (chiefly, privacy), in lieu of other luxuries (chiefly, absurd amounts of money and fame).
Mike is fighting for the integrity of entertainment news reporters, which by its very nature does not cover topics that I would voluntarily associate as news in general. Things that go on in the entertainment world are only news worthy so long as they are entertaining. People only read what Mike has to say because it is entertaining; you wouldn't have a "voice" if you broke stories about PHP programmers that turned down jobs at X, Y, or Z technology company or the latest breakthrough in Mathematics because no one gives half a flying shit if it is not entertaining.
People are only all ears to hear if Brad Pitt turned down a script for a role in a major movie, Megan Fox breaking off her engagement, or Rihanna getting beaten because of who these people are, and not what the news is. If I replaced these celebrities names with my neighbors names, it wouldn't even be news at my apartment complex.
Mike, is THAT the news whose integrity you are fighting so strongly to maintain? Give me a fucking break.