Rumors

I laughed a bit this morning while reading the latest "Wally Edge" column on PolitickerVT.com on the "rumor around the Statehouse" that Rep. Daryl Pillsbury would be challenging Sen. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Jeanette White for one of their seats in November.

Now pushing aside the obvious question of when "legitimate" blogs began running rumors, had this Web site had any actual reporters at the Statehouse, they would know this is far more than a rumor (for more on the out-of-state PolitickerVT and its anonymous editor-in-chief, check out this recent Seven Days article).

Not only did Pillsbury announce LAST YEAR that he would probably be running for the state senate from Windham County, but he officially announced last week, one day before Wally’s column ran, on a Brattleboro radio station. Later that day, Pillsbury trekked up to the reporter’s balcony in the House chambers to give me his official press release.

I don’t normally like to slog on other media outlets for their reporting ’cause we all make mistakes. But this was on my mind this morning as I sifted through old town meeting poll questions that Sen. Bill Doyle had sent along … and I found this gem from 1988: "Do you believe the Vermont news media is doing a good job?"

In the previous decade, the trend has been consolidation and a focus on national news in newspapers. That pendulum is swinging the other way now, I think, and while consolidation won’t be going away, there is an increased focus on local news and local content.

PolitickerVT, along with its sister sites for other nearby states, are trying to exploit that new paradigm with the new technology of blogging, while still sticking to its old guns. I guess we are now at the point where we have to ask ourselves, what is the Vermont media in an age where your news could be coming from a pseudonym with out-of-state masters?

-Dan Barlow

2 Responses to Rumors

  1. what is the Vermont media in an age where your news could be coming from a pseudonym with out-of-state masters?
    The relative health of Vermont media institutions notwithstanding, I think you’re begging the question here. You seem to be assuming that anonymity matters. But a given news source — in this case, PolitickerVT — is only as good as its product. If there was a real-life name associated with that blog and it still bungled stories as badly, would it have any more credibility than it has now? My point is that we can dismiss the newsworthiness of certain sources — whether they are anonymous or not — based on the quality of the news reporting alone.
    PolitickerVT is a brand and you’ve made a good case that it’s probably not a brand you can trust when it comes to breaking political stories in Vermont. Why does the author’s identity matter? The reporting is either good or bad regardless.

  2. I never heard of PolitickerVT, if that makes you feel any better.
    Readership of the Vermont Press Bureau stories is undoubtedly much, much greater. And I do like to see names on the stories I read.