Pour l’encourager les autres

It’s never good to be made an example of, except a) when you deserve it, and b) when you learn something from it.

I got a small dollop of email tonight pointing me to “Weblog Central” on MSNBC where I’m used as a cautionary example of those who sometimes live on the Isle of Conclusion (because they jumped there):

Take, for example, the March 23 report out of Iraq that U.S.-led coalition troops had seized a chemical plant. Early reports on FoxNews.com indicated that the plant was a “huge chemical weapons factory.” Other news organizations jumped on the story, citing Fox as the source. When it eventually became clear that there were no actual chemical weapons at the plant and the actual nature of the chemical factory could not be determined for some time, news outlets backpedaled, and reports of a “chemical weapons factory” were tempered with terms like “suspected.”

In most cases, this correction might have gone mostly unnoticed. But in a war that is being covered simultaneously by news organizations and independent Webloggers, information and disinformation is being recorded, analysed, spun, counterspun and set straight again in countless iterations, countless languages and countless countries.

So, when Armed Liberal saw the original chemical weapons plant report at 1:41 a.m., he promptly posted the story on the Winds of Change blog, with a link to the Fox News story and a quote:

“A senior Pentagon official has confirmed to Fox News on Sunday that coalition forces have discovered a ‘huge’ chemical weapons factory near the Iraqi city of An Najaf, which is situated some 225 miles south of Baghdad.”

And while the writer is too gracious to directly take me to task for not correcting my post when the underlying news story was updated, he should have because I should have.

I’m taking away the fact that “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” I’ll try much harder to step up when what I say is misleading or sometimes, heaven forbid, just plain wrong.

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