CROWD SOURCING 101: “The Wrath of Conned”

You can’t slip one by when everyone can weigh in.
By Jamie McIntyre

If anyone doubts the capacity of the Internet to correct the record when a reporter gets something wrong, you should check out this story from the New York Observer:

“Top ABC News Producer Leaving Network to Become High School Guidance Counselor.”

The story itself is a feel-good piece about that rarity in the backbiting world of network television:  a caring executive, who in the words of the article, “became a kind of cherished, if unofficial, career counselor at ABC News, helping countless young producers and correspondents find their way at a particularly tumultuous time in an already confusing business.”

She sounds like a gem.  And the story is about how, in mid-life, she’s making a career change to begin “counseling uncertain youngsters, full-time.”

In the old days, back before Al Gore invented the Internet, (or at least coined the phrase “information superhighway”) that would have been where the story ended.

But turns out the New York Observer did no favor to the erstwhile ABC producer in tossing her a journalistic bouquet on her way out.    It merely opened the floodgates to a torrent of derision from her sharpest critics, and it turns out they are legion.

The posting — the article, along with pages of caustic comments —  is a testament to how the Internet can work as a self-correcting force.  It would seem that almost everyone who ever worked for, or with, this woman has a distinctly more negative impression of her personality and performance.

Is she the monster her mostly anonymous detractors make her out to be?  Who can say?  But one thing is unmistakably clear: she was a polarizing figure widely despised by many of her colleagues, an aspect of the story clearly missed by the Observer, and quickly corrected by the wisdom of the online masses.

However you come down, the post is very interesting reading, not so much for what it says about a heretofore largely unknown producer at ABC news, but for what it says about the way reputations are made and broken in the information age.

In this example of “interactive journalism,” the “journalism” seems to lie with the “interactivity.”

Jamie McIntyre, is a former CNN correspondent and Adjunct Professor of Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland.  He can be contacted at journosaurus@gmail.com

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