Reporter: ‘Why blogging ain’t reporting’

It’s pretty unusual to see journalists sniping at each other across the country, but that’s happening today between aviation reporter Christine Negroni and a blogger at the New York Times.

Negroni, who reported for the Times this year on a story about the electromagnetic interference consumer devices could cause for airplane navigation systems, is hitting Times blogger Nick Bilton hard for a series of posts that pooh poohs the threat.

Negroni makes a rational argument before unleashing the journalistic version of the “nuclear option.”

For those who prefer their pilots not to be wetting their pants over suspected EMI flight control issues I’ll point out that it is a basic tenet of aviation safety that events are more predictive than accidents. These pilots were reporting on the precursors to crashes.

But Bilton, having spoken to at last count about half a dozen people over the course of four posts tells Times readers its “time to change the rules.”

He’s wrong. Aviation’s remarkable record is the result of eliminating anticipated risks and creating redundant systems for the risks and errors that are unpredictable. The use of portable electronic devices falls squarely in the former.

Bilton would know that if he felt the need to take his reporting even slightly off the path between his hunches and his biases. As a blogger he may not need to do that, but as someone who’s opinions fall under the banner of The New York Times, he and his editors certainly ought to.

Ouch.

By the way, it would be “whose opinions.”

  • John O.

    I am somewhat surprised that a Times editor did not step in and take the disagreement offline. I’m even more surprised they did not catch that obvious typo.

  • So what about news bloggers like you, Bob? Aren’t you both a reporter and a blogger?

  • John P II

    Ironic since Negroni is also a blogger at the NYT, regularly contributing to Wheels, in addition to her own blog. She’s essentially a travel writer, but did contribute a story about what she learned from dogs to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

  • Joanna

    Some people confuse the medium with the messenger. A reporter working for the NYT can be a source of misinformation or disinformation (weapons of mass destruction, anyone?) if he/she only parrots press releases or does not do a good job. A blogger can be a reporter (IRL) or do the job reporters do, if he/she engages in reporter-like behavior. The difference today is that readers can engage in conversations with reporters and bloggers in ways that were impossible in the past. Some of those readers may even have a great deal of expertise on a subject, or ask the hard questions that did not fit in the story. In the event that copy editors abdicate their responsibility, we can even do that job for them 🙂

  • Bob Collins

    //Aren’t you both a reporter and a blogger?

    I don’t consider myself a reporter. I think “reporter” conjures up an “arm’s length” relationship with the reader.

  • Kevin

    …and it should be “it’s ‘time to change the rules'”, not “its”. And there should be a comma after “four posts”.