Drudge - the dregs of internet news?
Political gossip could be bad news for web journalism
The Drudge Report is a well-known US political gossip site that gained significant attention when it broke news of the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair in 1998.
The site features news headlines, mostly linked through to other news sites, but also publishes leads and gossip emailed to the site - often by anonymous sources.
Writing on alternative news site Counterbias.com on 20 July, freelance journalist Scott C Smith describes Matt Drudge as 'a dumpster diver of internet news, looking for the news scraps the legitimate media throws away'.
"He'll post just about anything for the Drudge Report without verifying the accuracy of the story," he said.
"He has no credibility or journalistic ethics."
Mr Smith contributes to left-wing US comment sites the Smirking Chimp and the Democratic Underground. He says that the Drudge Report is a major reason why internet journalists have to deal with credibility issues more than their print counterparts.
"Drudge has been very successful in using the internet to get his message out," he told dotJournalism.
"I think his core audience of conservatives is not particularly concerned with Drudge's lack of ethics and credibility. They want to read stories that are critical of John Kerry or Bill Clinton, and Drudge delivers the goods."
A recent example is a story featuring a series of sports photographs of John Kerry next to the quote: “You're not going to have to look for us on vacation. You're going to find us working for America."
"The implication was that Kerry spent all of his time on vacation," explained Mr Smith.
"Drudge did not give dates as to when the alleged vacations took place nor did he give dates for when the photographs were taken. By refusing to provide context, Drudge is revealed as nothing more than a propagandist."
Mr Smith said that the Drudge Report's famous ‘scoop' about Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was originally investigated by Newsweek magazine reporter Michael Isikoff.
"I think legitimate journalists are jealous that Drudge gets the big stories, on occasion, with no effort, whereas a real journalist might spend days, or weeks, trying to track down leads and do the research for a story. Drudge probably doesn't even break a sweat."
Despite claiming a readership of more than 15 million, the Drudge Report is unlikely to have any significant impact on the forthcoming US presidential elections, said Mr Smith.
"I don't think he's going to change any minds. He'll be hammering away on John Kerry and John Edwards throughout this election cycle, but he's really preaching to the choir."
dotJournalism asked Matt Drudge to respond to Mr Smith's article but received no reply.
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The Drudge Report: http://www.drudgereport.com
Scott C Smith: http://www.scottcsmith.net
The Drudge Retort: http://www.drudge.com
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