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Sarcasm on ABC News blog earns criticism

Sarcasm on ABC News blog earns criticism

What was meant as a satirical posting by ABC News' political blog, The Note, has drawn criticism from some in the blogosphere for compromising the integrity of the ABC News brand.

The posting last Tuesday, September 27, claimed it was featuring an advanced copy of a speech President Bush was to make the next day. Instead, what followed was a speech Jimmy Carter gave almost 30 years ago.

Printing what is known as Carter's "malaise" speech was intended to show a comparison to President Bush's new conservation effort. But not all were in on the joke, and, ultimately, it served as a cautionary tale for news organisations as they increasingly try to penetrate the blogosphere and its culture.

"I appreciate the point The Note was trying to make," wrote blogger John Aravosis on Americablog.com. "But a serious news source like ABC News doesn't make that point by publishing 30-year-old speeches and claiming that they're an advance copy of today's address by the President. That's not satire. That's just stupid."

In an email, a spokeswoman for ABC News said the posting had actually received a fair amount of positive feedback.

"There were those who were somewhat confused, but I think most understood it to be an instrument of irony," she said.

The concept of news organisations blogging has become more prevalent, especially with the recent introduction of CBS' Public Eye blog. However, the practice poses risks.

Ben Silverman, author of newsletter PR Fuel, said the incident reflects how news organisations are still trying to find the best way to participate in the blogging trend.

"I think that traditional media organisations have gotten the idea that, in order to blog, you must do it in the same way that individual bloggers are doing it," he said, citing the snarky, sarcastic, and opinionated tone of some blogs. "The media are trying to come to grips with how to deal with this medium. They're going to make some mistakes."


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