Saturday, 29 August 2009

In Praise of Alex Hilton

OK, I know he's bound up in Labour politics, but his little Baltimore stunt is worthy of some praise.

Why? Because it exposed yet again the utter falsehood about journalists as steady, careful, scrupulous fact checkers. The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC all got caught out.

It wouldn't take much to check. Google "Mayor Baltimore" would have shown it wasn't the site, maybe emailled the Mayor (Hilton left the email addresses as the original ones) or perhaps checked the domain name.

Would I have gotten caught out? Maybe. But then, I don't make any claims about my journalistic abilities.

The one thing that might have got me wondering about it is the fact that Baltimore is a very violent city. I knew this for some time, but I just looked it up and it's the 5th most violent city in the USA. I'd be surprised if the mayor of Baltimore decided to go on the defensive about it's level of violence in such a way as to compare it with Midsomer. And that the YouTube channel only had 1 video might have made me wonder about it.

But how long would it have taken for journalists to do a WHOIS on the website? That will tell you exactly who registered it (and Alex Hilton is right there).

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