Scripting News for 3/7/2007

Oh Sarkozy 

A new law in France makes it illegal for nonaccredited journalists to record acts of violence.

“The law, which was proposed by Minister of the Interior, and French Presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy has been designed to criminalize a range of public order offenses.”

Sarkozy spoke to a conference of bloggers in France late last year.

If such a law were passed in the US, we’d assume it was because the government was getting ready to commit acts of violence that they didn’t want people to see on the web. The French would probably talk about how we’d lost it in the USA.

What is reporting? 

Derrick Schneider: “Reporting is just a genre of writing, alongside essays and stories, and blogggers most certainly fall into that genre.”

Imho, when they talk about reporting on a show like Frontline, they mean the process a reporter goes through.

1. Interviews, research.

2. Assemble a story.

3. Fact-checking and editing.

4. Publishing.

Most bloggers aren’t doing this whole thing. Our process is different, and I’d argue no less rigorous, just more distributed, and step 2 is something everyone does for themselves.

Key point in last night’s piece — sources are part of the reporting process, and more and more, the sources are becoming bloggers.

S3 for images 

Jeff Atwood is hosting images on Amazon S3.

Some of his commenters report slow response outside the US and frequent downtime.

I haven’t noticed that, have you?

All the images on are hosted on S3 nowadays.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Dave, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Frontline piece, which is fine, two people can respectfully disagree. I would just ask you to consider why so many reporters and editors are livid at Frontline right now. They clearly do not feel the series reflected their POV, as you assert.

    Here’s a memo from the LA Times’ editor on the series (a letter that hits below the belt, IMHO):

    Here’s something from one of their writers:,1,2248108.column?coll=la-news-columns

    My take: Frontline angered both sides in a contentious debate, which is much much better than only angering one side (though not prima facie evidence of correctness). It indicates that there was balance, whatever the report’s other alleged flaws (personally I loved it).


  2. PS I was replying more to your Mar 6 comments. I actually agree with you that reporting is a process, not just a “genre of writing.” Reporting is indeed a process, and writing is actually very distinct. You can write without reporting, and you can be a staff writer at a newspaper without reporting (there are tons of them, for better or worse, writing columns and editorials and so forth).

    I know Derrick personally and like him, and don’t take umbrage and his comment,but I take umbrage at the _notion_ that reporting is the same as writing. My newspaper does not pay me to sit here all day and just write my thoughts, frankly people aren’t going to pay for those thoughts. What they will pay for is for me to go out and gather information that is new and unique and and informative.

    You are right that bloggers don’t do this, but crucially you also point out that they are a part of a *process* of reporting, and a key part. The fact is, newspapers and magazines and TV stations themselves have cut back on how much of the reporting process they implement. The “fact checking” step, in particular, is expensive and has been cut back, if you define “fact checking” as the act of having a second person come in and duplicate the original reporting of the first. So bloggers are reimplementing parts of the process for them.

    They are not just reimplementing fact checking, by the way, they are also doing more of the post-reporting analysis reporters and editorial writers used to do. And by posting their own thoughts, they are also adding virtual “interviews” — interviewing themselves for stories in which they are a qualified primary source.



  3. PPS I really disagree about this distinction between “reporting” and “journalism.” Same thing. Making a distinction is just wordplay.

    There is “good reporting” and “shoddy reporting” but it’s all journalism (i.e. it’s all reporting).


  4. PPPS Thanks for calling out the inappropriate use of the word ‘parasite’ by newspaper editors. They tried to saddle Craig Newmark with that one too.


  5. Now that you mention Craig Newmark, one remarkable thing was that there was an intelligent, lucid, self-respecting Newmark — very much unlike the usual self-deprecating “I’m just a support guy” Newmark we usually hear from. I was glad to see that when he plays dumb it’s just an act. Maybe from now on we’ll see him be a better representative of the people on the net. I was proud of the Newmark in the Frontline interview.


  6. Ryan, the reporters are wrong to see bloggers as parasites, the day they get that we’re resources they can use is the day they’ll begin to start making sense in the new age. Until then they’re just a bunch of crybabies. I don’t usually resort to such terminology, but I’m getting sick of them looking for sympathy when they haven’t been willing to even TRY to adapt to the new reality.


  7. Hi,

    I’m relatively new to the wonders of this cyber-world. Was asked to write a blog as part of an MA in Professional Writing. Hit the 100th monkey effect this weekend, and suddenly hurtled out in to the blogosphere with eyes open wide in amazement. What a great place to be.

    I also edit an online writers site ‘about writing – for writers’ ( – we are just about to start featuring blogs, and I was about to write an editorial piece about the art of all things blog. The trail led me to you… Rather than words form a babies mouth, so to speak, I wondered if you had the time/place/inclination would you be happy to write something? Or to forward a piece of something already written that you would be happy for us to up load?

    My email should come up with this message, but if not let me know, and I’ll find a way to pass it on..

    Many thanks, in anticipation.


  8. My argument for some time now has been that journalism (for this discussion you can call it reporting as well) continues well beyond publication. In fact, that’s what has changed the nature of the reporter’s role most dramatically. It used to be that when a story was published, the reporter’s job was pretty much done. There might be a phone call or two, or maybe a letter to the editor. But the work was over.

    Now you can argue that, where really good journalism is done, the reporter’s job not only isn’t done, it’s just getting started. Because the impact of publication creates its own context for journalism to continue in discussion, commentary, new data and a new ecosystem of dialogue.


  9. I think Paul’s comments are very good. In an ideal world the initial publication is only a starting point and the follow-on commentary is where the real action would be. The problems are that media doesn’t like to be questioned, something that always happens when the comments start to flow, and they don’t presently make any money on the commentary, an even bigger problem.

    That’s the problem with bloggers as journalists – journalism is a time-consuming endeavor and can’t be done for free. A system of compensation has to be invented before this transition can be made. Presently most individuals’ blogs are op-ed and we need media to comment on.


  10. We have been building an application to allow home users to store their content on S3. I can concur that S3 appears to be down on a reasonably regular basis outside the US (We are based in Dublin, Ireland). Performance is ok for uploads and downloads but not dramatic.


  11. Posted by Alan on March 7, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I’m in Canada (Alberta) and I have noticed intermittent (I wouldn’t necessarily say frequent) S3 outages. For instance, there was a period around 11:50am last Wednesday when Scripting News images weren’t loading for me and I during which I couldn’t access my own S3 account. It’s probably fine for noncommercial web image hosting, but I wouldn’t use it for a commercial site.


  12. I saw the Frontline piece last week, KQED…anyway. I liked it. I especially liked how they went after Craig Newmark (craigslist) blaming him for the dimise of the newspaper; and how he put it bluntly…most of the ads on craigslist would never even appear in a newspaper…and I totally agree.

    So how many of you heard about how the LA Times caved to the current administration and NSA concerning internal wire tapping of American citizens. Shame on them.

    You know, I betcha, I’m the only one here who actualy has a Journalism degree…and this is what it means:

    “EVERYONE IS A JOURNALIST” its something that you do, call it blogging, call it essaying, etc. The argument is mute…the word journalist means “one who journals” and to journal basically means to write down everyday mundane crap into a “journal.” see how easy that is.

    I never went into journalism as a profession because its is really hard work; its mainly why most journalist today just rewrite/copy PR-Releases. Going out everyday, finding a new story, one which is exciting, is hard work.

    I see this as more of an elitist argument more than anything else. One, where those who have liberal arts degrees are telling everyone else they con’t do what they’re doing cause they don’t have a liberal arts degree.

    anyway…It doesn’t matter. The world is changing; changed. Time will march on.

    blog baby, blog.


  13. Posted by billg on March 7, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    >>”Reporting is just a genre of writing, alongside essays and stories, and blogggers most certainly fall into that genre.”

    Well, yeah. Jotting down a grocery list also falls into the genre of writing.

    Most bloggers create commentary. They tell us what they think about something other people did or said or wrote. It will stay that way, because most bloogers have day jobs and don’t have the time, skills or resources to do anything else.

    We will see a lot of great reporting published on things called blogs, but most of it will be written by people who expect to earn their living as reporters.

    That doesn’t mean that a “source” won’t have a blog. It does mean that a good reporter will still want to talk to that source. Building a story on someone’s blog post is as lazy as building a story on their PR release.

    The great value of blogging is, and alway has been, the ability of anyone to publish anything. That, alone, does not eliminate the need for good reporters.


  14. Posted by Tom on March 7, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    When I read your post ‘Oh Sarkozy ‘ I immediately thought it was a way the French could be using to stop the happy slapping videos. I read the link you provided and indeed happy slapping is mentioned as something they are trying to stop over there. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen any Dave, but it’s brutal. I’m from England which has a horrendous level of street crime and I’ve seen one of these videos. One boy on his own at a bus stop is suddenly and without warning whatsoever gets an almighty punch in the side of the head and collapses, knocked out. This is done by one boy in a gang of several boys one of whom has recorded it on his video camera and then put it online. It is the only time I’ve seen a a happy slapping video and I didn’t know what to expect. Sickening. I can’t see a law such as that passing in the US. Of course by banning the public at large from recording acts of violence would also make it illegal to record acts such as Rodney King getting a thrashing from the police. Then again that didn’t help much anyway did it?


  15. I love the french….but their new law is facist.

    That love would prevent things like the “Rodney King beating” or the “Zapruder Film” of the JFK assassination from every being shown.

    This is the difference between the old world and the new’ and why, as far thinking as most Europeans are, they still don’t understand “Freedom”


  16. Posted by Tom on March 7, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Lemon – It wasn’t the French people who proposed the new law it was their government. Just because a law comes into effect doesn’t mean the people agree to it. It’s a fair bet that lots of them would be opposed to it. In recent years I’d say that the US government has been trampling on its peoples rights and G. Bush and his men care less about the populations freedoms. Europeans fully understand freedom, (especially those in the old eastern bloc countries, or do you not count those?) and most of them don’t feel a need to invade other countries, i.e. Iraq, in the name of “Freedom” and “Democracy” quite the way that a fair number of Americans did just a few years ago. And yes I realize lots of Americans opposed the Iraq invasion, but still…..


  17. That french law blatently violates the United States’ first amendment. Europeans don’t understand the concept of the “Bill of Rights.” For example, lots of people in America are against the right to own a gun; but, basically its there to protect us from our own government. One thing written into the constitution of the United States, and known by our founders, is, government is bad, and always against the people.

    As for Bush & Iraq, well I agree with you. American arogance is the worst, and it leads our nation to do very stupid things…and I think many would agree with me, in that, Bush is the worst president we’ve had in…well, at least a 100 years or so, maybe even the worst.


  18. lemon obrien: Believe me, there *are* Europeans who understand the concept of the Bill of Rights and wish that our half-baked European Convention on Human Rights had some teeth to protect citizens from the plethora of bad laws enacted both at the member state and European level. When it comes to things like freedom of speech, I’d far rather my country were under the dictate of the First Amendment than our badly drafted Articles 9 and 10.

    The Convention has been a failure in as much as it hasn’t protected us from the many illiberal measures of government. It took 200 years for the American Constitution to become as messed up as our human rights Convention is after only fifty.


  19. Posted by Joe Smith on March 8, 2007 at 8:33 am

    We all know — or would if we stopped to think about it — that there are many types of journalism and many types of blogging. It blurs the argument when the two are compared as monoliths without those distinctions (not saying this is happening here but too often does). Both “sides” do it to the detriment of interesting discussion. There are types of journalism, most notably true investigative journalism and full “beat” journalism, that are tough to emulate in the blog world (bloggers tend to have real jobs and bills to pay) and also becoming tougher to fund in the new media world — the business payoff doesn’t always justify all the expense. This is a sad situation. We all benefit from that type of journalism. It’s as unique and important as a really well-run blog such as scripting news (which isn’t just words on a screen but really a universe onto itself and its readers/contributors).

    Dave, I know you watch and love The Wire on HBO, as do I. You’ve probably have heard they are taking on big-city newspaper journalism in Season 5, their final season. The creator of the show is a former city journalist. I am really looking forward to his take on just this issue and an honest, smart dramatization of the issues surrounding traditional newspapers. That type of journalism has a long and storied history – and an uncertain future. Blogging has a short, interesting history with its future still ahead of it.


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