Over at the always enlightening Charles on… blog, a good point is made about the limits of having amateurs do the reporting/answering/research. The short answer: Journalists do this better because it’s our job. Not sure I agree with that 100% — I think there’s a certain kind of person, a maven, if you will, who knows the answers, and then another kind of person — a journalist-type person — who is good at gathering it all together.
But Charles in passing hints at another, more worrying point: the kind of people who blog, and comment on blogs, and answer questions on things like Yahoo! Answers, may not be the kind of people who are real mavens. Or who have even read the original article they’re commenting on. What scares me most about the Internet today is how many people feel entitled to comment on stuff that they haven’t even read, let alone researched a little. When ignorance sits on ignorance, we’re all in trouble.
At least I think that’s what Charles is saying. I didn’t read the whole thing.
Journalists do that: they do check, they do ask, they do look for inconsistencies, things left out, things unsaid. They do ask what procedures are, they do go looking for notes on what those procedures are, they ask people who’ve been captured what it was like, if they can tell them what they’ve been told.