“Mr Fisk said the internet had led to the erosion of quality writing.
He recalled being challenged about a quote of his that had been published on a website – although he had never said it. “But I read it on the internet,” was the response, to which Mr Fisk simply hung up.
Often “misquoted or requoted” on the internet, he is furious when people cut pieces out of what he has said or written, especially if someone uses ellipsis to indicate something has been cut from a quote, when they have actually culled 380 words.
Gordon Campbell – political editor of Scoop and host of the evening – attempted to defend the internet, taking the microphone off Mr Fisk several times to reassure the audience of the benefits of web journalism.
At one point, Mr Fisk retorted: “To hell with the web, it’s got no responsibility.”
I wonder what his problem is. I have always admired Fisk. He’s an exceptional journalist. But like so many exceptional journalists who have earned their living reporting for newspapers, I don’t think he understands what blogs actually are.
Let me ask you this: Why do we report news? To inform, yes. To educate, yes. To apply a sense of public voice… absolutely. For reporters like Robert Fisk, a blog should make him weak at the knees with excitement. If you read Reesh’s piece in full, you’ll come across this statement:
“British-born Fisk (pictured), a journalist who has lived in the Middle East for 30 years, describes as disgraceful a newspaper cutting off the bottom part of a photo of a man holding his dead daughter. By not showing the bone protruding from her leg, the newspaper got away with the caption: ‘A man carries his wounded daughter.’”
With a blog, he could have posted that picture in full.
In fact, everything Fisk claims is wrong about Middle East reporting would be solved if he posted his work on a blog as well as just in a newspaper.
Fisk’s work achieves the goal of informing and educating whoever reads it. But if we’re looking at ABC figures, that puts it at 235,289 on average per day. That’s a very small percentage of a small country.
I say if we, as journalists, are to really do our job as the world’s mouthpiece, then Fisk needs to embrace the web, before the web consumes him.
By Dave Lee