The Right Coast

September 13, 2004
The Blogosphere as a Truth Detector
By Mike Rappaport

Lately, there has been a great deal written in the blogosphere about how it can detect inaccurate information. Witness not only the posts on Rathergate, but also this one from Andrew Sullivan about Shattered Glass.

Part of the reason that the blogosphere is good at detecting inaccuracy is that there are a large number of bloggers who have access to disparate bits of information. The blogosphere then coordinates and transmits this information. It is a little like (not exactly like) Hayek's theory of a market as a information coordination mechanism.

But there is another advantage of the blogosphere. Bloggers are generally required to link to their sources. Readers can then easily check to determine whether the source supports their claims.

How could newspapers and networks provide the same accuracy check? Of course, editors are supposed to do that, but editors are, well, human. What if journalists were required by journalistic standards to have a link to their written notes from their interview with a source and were required to post an audio file of their recorded interviews? That would do much to stop fabrications before they occur.