Forbes Continues Its Blog Credibility Issues

    January 27, 2006

Forbes magazine has long been seen as a major player in covering the world of business and finance. Their reporting is generally credible with excellent insight. Blogging as a communications tool continues to grow in the business world but for some reason, Forbes just can’t seem to get it right.

PR Blogging guru B.L. Ochman sent me an email today noting that Forbes had made a fairly significant error in an article by Tom Taulli on blogging. In the article, he quoted Bob Wyman of PubSub. Ochman, on her own blog noted that the quote seems a bit odd and out of character for Wyman. It seemed to have been taken out of context:

“To get noticed by bloggers, companies should appoint internal bloggers and start them blogging,” said Wyman. “Of course, the blogs must be authentic. Also, companies can sponsor blogging events and meet the bloggers themselves to see what makes them tick.”

After she posted the comment about the quote on her own blog being out of context, she received a comment from Salim Ismail, Wyman’s co-conspirator on PubSub that said:

Very perceptive of you… “In a quote no doubt taken out of context…..”

Yes, the quote was taken out of context… especially in that it wasn’t Bob’s quote, but mine. You very rightly have noticed Bob would be much more complex and accurate – it’s generally impossible for him to be otherwise… (I work hard at balancing him out a bit :)

And, the response was to a different question (around how companies can better understand bloggers rather than get ‘noticed’.)

I think we should applaud Forbes for at least more objectively reporting the space (subjectively speaking, of course)

Posted by: Salim Ismail at January 27, 2006 11:34 AM

So, what’s up with this? I wouldn’t necessarily call this bad journalism, certainly nothing like Jayson Blair did, but it’s certainly sloppy. I’m not always the bastion of absolute perfection, but something like this comes under the category of sloppy journalism.

In their defense, people have some pretty unrelenting standards for journalists of professional publications like Forbes and lots of others. It’s just that in the past, Forbes has been particularly vicious toward bloggers and their quality. While this article doesn’t suggest anything bad about bloggers, one would hope they would maintain the kind of standards they’ve attacked bloggers for not having in the past.

Just like lots of other things on the Internet, there’s good and bad examples. With many traditional media people, bloggers have had a hard time gaining credibility even though many of them produce quality news reporting and insightful, thoughtful commentary on whatever they’re speaking about.

The problem for Forbes here is blogger buzz. They received a lot bad blogger buzz when they published their story back in November ripping bloggers to pieces. It was open season on Forbes. Now, in the article that looks like a “kiss-and-make-up” story about how good the blogosphere is and what it can do for business, they get their facts wrong by attributing a quote to the wrong person.

If bloggers are to be held to a higher standard, the communicators who were their first must set the standard by the quality of their own work.

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John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.