Seven days ago Gizmodo blogger Brian Barnett made a prediction. He looked at a number of the sales Amazon was having that day and concluded that they were a sign that Amazon was going to launch a new Kindle fairly soon. In fact, according to Brian's prediction it should have happened already.
What do you think of the new Kindle? Oh wait, there isn't one.
I'm not going to be hypocritical and fault Brian for making the prediction (oh boy would that be hypocritical), but I am going to highlight the many bloggers who repeated the rumor without injecting the least amount of thought. Those bloggers engaged in a modern form of tabloid journalism, and that is an activity which (as you can tell from this post) annoys the hell out of me.
When I reported on that prediction, I argued against it being true. I raised a number of possible explanations for the sales, any one of which was more plausible than Brian's prediction. It turns out I was right, but that's not as important as the fact that I thought about the prediction before I posted.
Here's the thing, folks. Most everyone who repeated the prediction should have been able to figure out at least some of what I posted. And there were probably any number of details that I didn't think to include which could have also confirmed or disproved the prediction.
And yet there were all these bloggers and many others who didn't even bother to look for more information. (For added fun I included a couple sites which are legacy publications who used to be respectable news sources.)
- Amazon clearing out Kindles in prelude to new devices - GeekWire
- Amazon to launch new Kindles next week, report speculates -
- Amazon Sale Suggests New Kindles Arriving Soon | TechnoBuffalo
- New Amazon Kindles on sale next week? |
- Discounts may mean new Kindles are coming - UPI
- Planning to buy a new Kindle? Wait — GigaOm
Note that I'm not faulting these bloggers for repeating the rumor, but for doing so in an uncritical manner. There's a difference, and I can explain it.
Earlier this week I posted about some FCC paperwork which I thought suggested that Amazon was working on a larger Kindle Fire. This story got picked up everywhere, but I only know of one site which called me on how thin the evidence was (I didn't look very far, to be honest).
Gizmodo covered the story in a post titled The Most Ridiculous Kindle Fire Sleuthing You'll Ever See. That is perfect; it is exactly what everyone should have done. The evidence was thin, so much so that my post was more wish fulfillment than investigative blogging. Mario Aguilar of Gizmoodo turned a critical eye to the story, and of all the people who repeated my story he's the only one who did his job.
Now, you might argue that all the tabloid bloggers mentioned above are simply reporting on someone's prediction, so they have no responsibility for whether it turns out to be true. Perhaps, but it is their hands on the keyboard, and just because they're reporting on a prediction doesn't mean they can get away with turning off their brains.
And as for me, this post is my attempt to raise your expectations. I want the readers thinking about the stories in a critical manner, because I'm hoping that y'all will start bugging bloggers when they descend into tabloid blogging. I'm trying to raise the professional standard of blogging in general.
What can I say, I like the occasional tilting at windmills.
P.S. If you know of a site which covered either story with a critical eye, please name them in the comments. They deserve the credit.