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chicagotribune.com >> Editorials

Latest `journalistic' craze: Info-pimping


By Charles M. Madigan
a Tribune senior writer and correspondent
Published February 6, 2007

In a Commentary page column on Feb. 6, Charles M. Madigan said he was inventing a word, "info-pimp" to describe using rumors as news. The word has been used before and was not invented by Mr. Madigan. His Feb. 27 column on the Commentary page explains.

I have always been terrible at the "journalists stick together" thing.

In my era, independence was assumed, along with competitive drive that made socializing a little uncomfortable. I once dismantled a guy's phone so he couldn't call in his story first.

No one at United Press International told me to do that. No one had to.

It's a felony, I think, but I really hated losing.

My friends, non-journalists, do not sit around and ponder the business, an ailment these days because its future now involves the question: Does it have one?

Still, the people I have admired the most have always been journalists. I love my colleagues.

I am bringing this up for two reasons.

I am angry at the sneering use of the phrase "mainstream media," by bloggers. I am also upset by the obvious decline in standards that would allow a ridiculous slander about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to become news for a little while until reality intervened.

People do a lot of things backward these days.

I once counseled a buddy who had blasted his disastrous way through a string of wonderful girlfriends that he might have more luck if they actually got to know one another before they became intimate. (Note: This is a euphemism for having sex!)

He thought this was brilliantly novel, tried it out and ended up married for some decades until that, too, blew up because some people just can't take advice.

I feel the same way about stories.

Before you become intimate (Note: This is not a euphemism for sex!), you really have to know them. You don't go into the tawdry world of information and fall into a swoon over some wacky Internet-fueled tidbit.

Your mother, who says she loves you, wants you to check it out, or something like that.

People who pick up questionable things and present them as real are info-pimps.

I just invented that word. I like the sound of it.

It conjures images of parasites, laptops in place, typing up a storm and then putting it out on the street, where the gullible, thinking it's the real deal, just gobble it up.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with their sneaky attack on Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the last presidential contest were info-pimps.

It would have been a lot easier if they had just said, "We hate his guts because he was anti-war and let his comrades down," and let it go. Betrayal is really bad enough. You don't have to pretend there is "news" involved.

 


Copyright 2007, Chicago Tribune













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