JOHN P. GAMBOA: You can’t use Drudge’s news

by publicationarchive

Matt Drudge is known for only a handful of things. One of which is that he owns a news Web site self-titled the “Drudge Report.” The second is that he was the first to “break” the Monica Lewinksy scandal during Clinton’s administration.However, 10 years later, attempting to be relevant and important, Drudge has decided that his pursuit of the scoop is far superior to other people’s lives. He has even been called the “most powerful journalist in the world” by a British newspaper – nothing more than a blogger to others – for exposing a story regarding Prince Harry’s 10 week deployment in Afghanistan. Drudge is also credited with publishing a photo of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama in Somali clothes during a visit to Kenya in 2006, bringing even more uncertainty about Obama’s purported Muslim past habitually pointed out by those on the right. On Feb. 28, Drudge cultivated an unseen story previously published in January by Australian women’s magazine “New Idea.” It depicted Prince Harry’s tour of duty in the Middle East, breaking a voluntary media blackout of the deployment until he returned to the United Kingdom from his six-month tour. As a result, Drudge’s self-proclaimed and erroneously titled, “world exclusive” of the story resulted in Harry and his entire unit being sent home immediately because of Drudge’s need for an edge. “New Idea” claimed that the action of breaking the voluntary media blackout in January was an accident, saying it had no idea the blackout existed. But Drudge appears to have made his decision in haste and as a result, endangered Harry’s life.When Drudge’s name was plastered over every newspaper and news site by the next day, his name was associated with the leak as much as the prince’s. Drudge made himself a part of the story, making it look as if breaking the story was not meant to tell people Harry was in Afghanistan, but an attempt to make a name for himself after falling in Web statistics the last few years. Even data from Alexa, a worldwide Web site statistics company, reported no major spike in web traffic in the last few weeks following Drudge’s so-called “exclusive.” In fact, the site has declined steadily throughout the last several years and has had only one significant spike in traffic around 2004 when former presidential nominee John Kerry was falsely reported as having an affair on the campaign trail. While Drudge’s site seems to attract attention worldwide, he’s nothing more than an errand boy for the grudging politicos seeking a venue for their anonymous angry statements. In April 2007, Drudge falsely reported that CNN reporter Michael Ware heckled presidential nominee Sen. John McCain on the campaign trail from what the site describes as an “anonymous source.” Drudge never attempted to amend his error or retract any statements, but continued business as usual. What an honorable character.His status as the filing clerk of political news attracts more Internet attention than it deserves. Most of Drudge’s work is nothing more than a publication his own headlines for stories people can find in any newspaper, magazine or Web site.When news-aggregating services were in infancy, Drudge was at the forefront, posting ridiculous and often outrageous headlines to news articles linked elsewhere on the Internet. In the 10 years since the Lewinsky scandal, better and improved ways to access news on the Web have evolved. The online behemoth Google offers its own aggregating service via mathematical algorithms and even allows its users to set up personalized news pages to find stories with topics of their interest. Also, social news sites like Digg, Fark and Reddit offer a community feel and process that bury the type of ludicrous, over-hyped stories often found on Drudge’s Web site.In light of his latest escapade involving Prince Harry, there is hope that Drudge’s Web site will soon be seen as no more important than the average blog nagging about gas prices.

-John P. Gamboa is a journalism junior and staff columnist.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com. Anonymous letters will not be printed – include your full name, major and year in school.