Friday, September 12, 2003

SOME OLD SKOOL WARBLOGGER ASS FACT-CHECKING: Radley Balko links to the now on-line Tom Junod article in Esquire that tries to identify September 11th's "Falling Man," whose picture--Junod claims--is the best-known image of someone who jumped from the World Trade Center. It's a pretty good article, questioning why images of the falling people have been banished from our mass consciousness--but there is this blog sideline:

And yet if one calls the New York Medical Examiner's Office to learn its own estimate of how many people might have jumped, one does not get an answer but an admonition: "We don't like to say they jumped. They didn't jump. Nobody jumped. They were forced out, or blown out." And if one Googles the words "how many jumped on 9/11," one falls into some blogger's trap, slugged "Go Away, No Jumpers Here," where the bait is one's own need to know: "I've got at least three entries in my referrer logs that show someone is doing a search on Google for 'how many people jumped from WTC.' My September 11 post had made mention of that terrible occurance [sic], so now any pervert looking for that will get my site's URL. I'm disgusted. I tried, but cannot find any reason someone would want to know something like that. . . . Whatever. If that's why you're here—you're busted. Now go away."

If you Google the words "how many jumped on 9/11" with the quotes you get bupkis. Without the quotes, you don't fall into a blogger's trap but get an assortment of entries on the subject. If you Google the exact phrase (without quotes) Junod quotes above--how many people jumped from WTC--you--again--do not fall into a blogger's trap, but do get led to the exact entry Junod mentions (it's second, actually) which is TECHFLUID, the blog of Chari Daignault, who has added the following on 9/10/03:

Please do not make assumptions as to why this entry was posted. If you want to know, just ask. Any journalist with a modicum of integrity would not have changed the context of this post and made presumptions as to why it was published. Any journalist with a modicum of integrity who truly wanted to present the truth would have asked. But of course, sometimes the truth doesn't sell newspapers, does it?

Or magazines. Anyhow, at no point do you fall into a blogger's trap; I guess there's too many ways to ask for information about people jumping from the World Trade Center for any one way to dominate Google. So at worst Junod is guilty of wildly overstating this one little bit of his article; that there is no blogger's trap, merely one page alongside many on the ol' Google pageranking. Then there's the more obnoxious point that he lifted Chari's post out of the context of 1. her own blog and 2. cyberspace in general to give the impression that this snippet was man-on-the-cyberstreet Internet pulse-feeling. And without identifying her or her blog; on-line opinion-givers don't deserve recognition, even when they sign their name under every post. (Chari doesn't, but she has an "ABOUT ME" page. My point being, it's not an anonymous blog.) So there's probably a little of the high-journalist contempt for blogland in there too, but that's to be expected, methinks. I guess maybe Esquire readers don't use the Internet?

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