I received two mentions in the Press recently.
The first was in connection with the unfortunate mining disaster in West Virginia, and the confused reportage around it. Who jumped the gun? Who followed suit? Could it have been avoided? The media and the blogosphere have been abuzz with these and similar questions, which have no easy answers.
Agence-France Presse(AFP) carried a story titled "Fingers pointed at media after tragic twist in US mine disaster" which begins,
The tragic death of 12 workers in a West Virginia mine put the US television and print media in a critical spotlight, following initial reports that the miners had been found alive.
A foggy cocktail of miscommunication and looming deadlines resulted in the morning editions of many major newspapers trumpeting the miners' survival as a "miracle" on their front pages.
The article goes on to describe how the media rushed to print and then correct the news that 12 miners were dead in the accident. It ends with the note,
Other bloggers acknowledged that the media, including Internet-based information gatherers, had been left with a "black eye."
"They rushed to print/e-publish the news -- myself included," admitted Aaman Lamba on blogcritics.org.
"The need and desire to communicate good news very likely obscured good judgment at various levels," Lamba added.
True - I wish it had not happened, but good news has a force its own, and news must out.
A second mention, more comfortingly in this case, came from Slate. In an article reviewing blog coverage of the news, titled "False Hope in Appalachia", the following section was included:
A new five-year plan: Bloggers are also by and large glad Russia and Ukraine reached a five-year deal on natural gas exported to the former Soviet satellite after pipelines to Kiev had been shut down by the Kremlin on Jan. 1. They're casting the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom as the chief villain in the dispute.
One Eyed Cat at the Ukrainian reform-minded Orange Revolution analyzes the energy fracas, with Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing ever more the paper tiger: "Russia is dangerous due to its weakness. They have shown their true face to the west. Western democracies promptly slapped them down. Ukraine, however, is not a free country. The need for reforms is great. The need for energy diversification is now acute. Make no mistake about this, however, Russia declared war on Ukraine and lost."
Aaman Lamba at the multi-interest news roundup site Blogcritics.org isn't so sure. "What was probably overlooked in the battle of the giants was that Gazprom cut off supplies to smaller Moldova as well, demanding a price of $150 per 1000 cubic meters," he observes. "In 2004, Gazprom cut supplies by a day to Belarus, affecting Poland and Germany. Russia may have damaged its reputation as an energy supplier and a fair player in the global community, but in a seller's market, it may be the short-term winner."