30 August 2007

Need To Know

I was hitting all the Cuba-related blogs last night-rumor mongering- when I realized from the Spanish blogs that a controversy between the MSM and the blogosphere has been brewing. The "Official" news sources are chastising the irresponsibility of blogs for spreading rumors the Castro is Dead rumor. Like those rumors weren't already spreading like wildfire all throughout South Florida. Puhlleez! My mom in Century Village heard the rumor before I read it over at Babalu.

Ernesto from Penultimos Dias appeared as a guest on "A Mano Limpia" standing up for the bloggers where he brought up good points about the usefulness of blogs.

None of the Cuban Americans bloggers are in the business of starting rumors. The reason that the rumors circulate around Cuba issues is because there is no free press in Cuba. People have a natural tendency to know the truth and what is going on around them, so in the absence of a free informative media, as is the case, in Cuba, and "information black market" has formed called Radio Bemba.

On the subject of Castro's death, the regime deems Castro's health a state secret which means it is treason, and a death sentence, to divulge any information on the condition of the tyrant. So, of course, all posts and news are going to be from anonymous sources, what do they expect bloggers to do name names so their friends and relatives can receive a lead pill courtesy of Raul? Hardly.

So what are Cuba bloggers supposed to do when someone they trust calls them with some information from Cuba? Sit on it? Help Castro, Inc. by not divulging its secrets? If Killcastro gets some information from his economist sources about some upcoming economic changes , do you want CB to post it ASAP? Or would you prefer to read it in Granma after it has been wrapped in Cuban Newspeak? If Val gets a call from a friend in government giving him a heads up about police being put on alert-do you want to know?

The rumors of last week, when you analyze them and put them all together all corroborate the "La Reforma" piece that originally reported that Castro is in dire straights physically, if not dead after undergoing yet another surgical procedure.

What do they expect bloggers to do? Wait until Oscar Corral and Ana Menendez publish it? Maybe they want us to all get our Cuba information from Prensa Latina like the AP and Reuters do. Or maybe they want bloggers to interview retired and repented ex-Castro communists like they do.

I don't think so.


Charlie Bravo said...

The funny thing, Gusano, is that after we published our article about the economic reforms the Vice Minister of Economy (that's a real position, don't laugh!) in Cuba talked about it. After that, some official outlets in Cuba have talked about that too.
We were really glad to see that Camilo Lopez has his sources from withing the CIMEQ reporting something very similar to what our sources at the same place reported.
What the "mainstream" press does not understand about bloggers is that we are a bit more agile than the printed press, we offer another dynamic, and our sources most of the time are very discouraged with the cystic nature of the press outlets like for example the Miami Herald, The New York Times or the Washington Post -which by the way, play the game that kasstro planned for them.

Mambi_Watch said...

You hit the nail on the head again Gusano.

While you accurately state that "[n]one of the Cuban Americans bloggers are in the business of STARTING rumors" (which I'm sure is true for the majority), you seem to justify SPREADING rumors by saying: "Like those rumors weren't already spreading like wildfire."

So if everyone in Century Village was saying that Fidel Castro was definitely dead, then you would consider it worthy of repeating?

The Miguel Cossio column makes several good points (I wonder if you read all of it), one being:

"Una de las esencias del periodismo es la disciplina de la verificación."

Sure, blogs DO NOT belong in the field of journalism (though the lines are beginning to blur), but there are ethical considerations nevertheless. More and more, blogs are becoming part of the "media", where people go for information. Then, a certain responsibility arises.

Cossio says:

"Cuando los medios sustituyen la noticia por el rumor VIOLAN las premisas que los hacen ser los OJOS CRITICOS de la sociedad y pueden perder la confianza depositada en ellos por los ciudadanos."

If a blogger wishes to be that "critical eye" (which I suppose you aim to be) towards a larger audience, then ethical considerations should be applied to spreading rumors. Don't you think so?

That means there's a certain responsibility to verify what people say, not because you don't believe them (even if they're a friend you trust), but because you have a certain responsibility to readers who MIGHT be expecting verification.

Recently, Amnesty International reported that the Sudanese government was violating an arms embargo, which some people expected, but others denied (because there was no proof). But, Amnesty VERIFIED the claim with photos.

You seem more intent to bend and sacrifice standard ethics just so you could beat the Herald, or other mainstream news sources to the punch.

Is that what your readers expect?

El Gusano said...

MB you write: "-The Miguel Cossio column makes several good points (I wonder if you read all of it)," - I'm glad you loved the column, but do i deserve that hostile snipping comment? Frankly, MW I feel that comment was beneath your usual insight and intellect.

Of course rumors tend to blurr the truth. That is the point of the post. In the absense of truth, rumors will start.and its a shame that in Cuba the truth is a rumor because the news are lies. You really need to understand that you cannot verify these things in Cuba.

Did Cosio verify how many people heard the rumor from blogs and how many from word of mouth, etc. It seems that without that kind of verication he's doing the same thing that he's accusing bloggers of doing- not that I totally disagree with him.

As long as a rumor gets reported as an unconfirmed rumor, I for one, take as that , but I am grateful that it has been passed along.

you're way out of line questioning my ethics or motivations, especially since I'm the one that brought up the controversy in the first place.

Mambi_Watch said...


I questioned if you had read the entire article because you didn't even address the particular ethical points that Cossio mentioned. You only used the article for a link to describe that the "official" news had chastised blogs (which pointed out Babalu blog and PerezHilton).

I did not mean to be snippy, as you say. Apologies nonetheless.

Also, I did not comment about rumors blurring truth. I made mention to the ethics involved in the reporter/reader relationship, which made up a significant part of Cossio's column.

I agree with you that the Cuban government is not the most reliable source of information out there. I myself would never use those sources for the very reasons you outlined. So, I don't see why you make mention of it, since it is an argument I never made.

It is interesting that Cossio mentioned blogs because that means that HE'S reading them. And, its accurate to say that he's blaming the little guys. But, also note that America TeVe, never reported about the rumors, unlike other stations who reported from Versailles. But, the basic question he wanted to address was in the first sentence he wrote: Se debe reportar un rumor como noticia?

And, in our society that includes the internet. So how does one know really know where a rumor started? But, an even more important question is: should I spread that rumor when I know that many people read what I write.

Even if one says "this is just a rumor", it is still called spreading rumors, and you don't know how people will take it. I looked over your blog, and you have many posts were you warn of rumors, and also provide links to who are spreading those rumors. In essence you become part of that chain.

All Cossio wanted to say is that reporters (maybe even bloggers) should stop and question themselves when they are provided with a rumor.

I think its great that you linked Cossio's article (I blogged about it because of you), but you didn't address the substance of his argument. That's why most of the stuff you wrote in your post are really more questions than answers.

Cossio provided some reasonable directions which I think you missed.