Colombia: “Defense Acknowledges That Guardian Article Was Phonier Than a Paraguayan Marlboro”

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The Content is Free URL where I first read the work of the pseudo-Gaviria, visited today. More honest would have been, “The page you were looking for turned out to be a hoax, sorry. Which is why we removed it.” Click to zoom.

It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible.

Mindefensa reconoció que presidente del Polo no fue autor de artículo en contra de Uribe: “The Minister of Defense acknowledges that the president of [the opposition alliance] was not the author of an article bashing Uribe.”


El Tiempo reports –and includes a screenshot of the Guardian Web site showing the article in question running with the byline of Carlos Gaviria.

I saw it myself, however, on the Comment is Free Web site, without a byline. I should have taken a screenshot, sorry.

It was the work, reports Radio W, of an “activist and spokesman” for Justice for Colombia named Mark Donne.

Who, Radio W reports, acknowledges signing Gaviria’s name to an article written in the first person, recapitulating Gaviria’s political career.

Which is just astonishing to me.

Net effect, on my scorecard: The message, “These are the kind of people who support critics of the Uribe government” wins the day.

Chalk up another one for J.J. Rendón.

Has the Guardian issued a correction yet?

Not that I can see.

It did issue this correction today, regarding an article on the release of the film Tropa de Elite:

Brasilia, rather than Rio de Janeiro, is the capital of Brazil — the error was introduced during the editing process (Film shows burned bodies and executions as real Rio, page 26, September 24).

It’s spelled Brasília, althought different publications do have different guidelines on how to deal with those pesky Romance-language accent marks.

The editing process is supposed to catch errors.

Not introduce them.

Especially not errors that a quick flip through an almanac or a 3-second google would avoid.

The city with the biggest star next to it on the map?

That tends to be the national capital.

There is a brief body-burning scene at the end of the film, depicting the infamous microwave — I think the grisly execution technique is known as “necklacing” in other parts of the world.


As to Mark Donne, if that really is his name: If this is true, stick a fork in him.

He’s, well, Donne.

Check him off the list.

Mark him done.

Subhed, down toward the bottom of the story today in El Tiempo:

Imprecise Information: The Dark Side of Blogs

No kidding?

When any idiot can publish on the Internet, most of what you read on the Internet will be written by idiots — or worse.

No matter what Jimmy Wales says.

The problem has a simple solution: teach Internet users how to consider the source.

If an NGO that promotes transparency, for example, makes it very, very difficult to know who funds its, fiquem com pé atras.

If a blogger publishes something like this in his profile: “Who am I? I often ask myself the same question! Who are any of us, really, in the vast scheme of things?” — assume that you are being baffled with bullshit.

It is very, very unlikely that Danny the Gnome is the name that appears on that putative tech-blogger’s birth certificate. And his portrait appears to be a Second Life screenshot.

Go read something else.

Time is money because life is short.

More signal. Less noise.

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Identity theft, and failure to consider the source.

Carlos Gaviria protestó por las que llamó “conjeturas injuriosas” de Juan Manuel Santos y rechazó la “suplantación abusiva” de su nombre para publicar artículo en The Guardian.

Gaviria protested what he called “the injurious conjectures” of Juan Manuel Santos and assailed the “abusive misappropriation” of his name in an article published in The Guardian.

Una cadena de imprecisiones y dudas rodea el escándalo por el artículo que apareció en un blog en el diario inglés y que el ministro de Defensa atribuyó el lunes al presidente del Polo Democrático Alternativo, Carlos Gaviria Díaz.

A [wave of David “Fear and Misinformation Abound” Sasaki-style fear, uncertainty and doubt] surrounds the scandal created by the article that ran on a blog published by the British daily, which the Minister of Defense attributed on Monday to the president of the Alternative Democratic Pole.

Una llamada del embajador en Londres, Carlos Medellín Becerra, en la que informó a Santos de “las coincidencias” entre el aviso de la ONG Justice for Colombia y la supuesta columna de Gaviria, prendió el tema.

A call from the ambassador in London, Carlos Medellín Becerra, who informed Santos of “the coincidences” between the advistory issued by Justice for Columbia and the column supposedly written by Gaviria, got the issue rolling.

El embajador le dijo a Santos que tenía la intención de protestar por los términos usados en el aviso, que atacaba al presidente Uribe.

The ambassador told Santos he intended to protest the terms used in the Justice for Colombia statement, which attacked Uribe.

En Bogotá, asesores del Ministro entraron a la página web de The Guardian. Las copias fueron entregadas en la misma tarde del lunes en una rueda de prensa en la que Santos exigió explicaciones al jefe del Polo.

In Bogotá, Defense Ministry aides visited the Guardian’s Web site. Copies were handed out on Monday afternoon at a press conference in which Santos demanded explanations of Gaviria.

Nadie del Gobierno, sin embargo, llamó a Gaviria para preguntarle si él era realmente el autor del escrito y al parecer tampoco notaron que se trataba de un blog y no de un artículo en las páginas de opinión.

No one in the government, however, called Gaviria to ask him if he was really the author of the atricle, nor, it seems, did any of them notice that the publication was a blog and not an article on the opinion pages.

Yes, but it is my understanding that this is a moderated online publication.

It is not like Wikipedia, where anyone can just go ahead and publish, for example, that E=mc³.

Or post a Neutral Point of View challenge because Wikipedia is unfair to those who believe the earth is flat and rests on the back of a gargantuan tortoise.

In which case, as is not the case with anonymous, pseudonymous and legendary bloggers — see Carvalho x Zero Hora for a case in point — the buck apparently does stop somewhere, with a responsible adult whose name and job title and contact information we know.

“Era un artículo firmado en la página oficial de un periódico serio. No hacía falta verificar”, dijo ayer Santos. En la tarde, a través de un comunicado, reconoció: “Queda claro ahora que Carlos Gaviria no escribió ese artículo y esa era la aclaración que esperábamos”.

“It was a signed article in a serious publication. There was no need to check it,” Santos said yesterday. In the afternoon, through a press release, he acknowledged: “It is clear that Gaviria did not write this article, and this is the clarification we had wanted from him.”

Las “coincidencias” de las que habló el Ministro el lunes de todas maneras sí existían. Ayer, voceros de The Guardian le dijeron a EL TIEMPO que Mark Donne, vocero de Justice for Colombia, entregó el artículo como si hubiera sido escrito por Gaviria y que solo ayer se enteraron de que no era así. Esa ONG fue la que pagó el aviso que tildaba al padre de Uribe de “mafioso”.

The “coincidences” of which the minister spoke on Monday do exist. Yesterday, spokespersons for the Guardian told this newspaper that Mark Donne, spokesman for Justice for Colombia, submitted the article as if it had been written by Gaviria, and only yesterday informed them that this was not the case. The NGO was the same that paid for an ad calling Uribe’s father a “mafioso.”

En la ONG respondieron ayer que las personas autorizadas para dar declaraciones no estaban disponibles. Donne le había dicho a La W Radio que todo había sido producto de un error, aunque esa explicación no convenció a Gaviria.

At the NGO, they said yesterday that persons authorized to make statements were not available. Donne had told La W Radio that it had all been a mistake, but this explanation did not convince Gabiria.

Ayer, en una carta a Santos, le dijo que no se puede tildar de antipatriotas a los críticos del Gobierno.

Yesterday, in a letter to Santos, he told him he cannot brand as unpatriotic those who criticize the government.

“Asunto bien diferente es que una organización no gubernamental extranjera, que se dice interesada en la suerte del país, me suplante abusivamente y ponga mi nombre al pie de un documento que no es de mi autoría, y en un anuncio concordante haga pensar que es también mío un lenguaje que repudio”, dijo Gaviria.

“It quite another matter for a foreign NGO, which claims to be interested in the fate of our country, to put my name to a document that I did not write, and in an accompanying press release let it be thought that the use of a sort of language that I myself repudiate were also my words.”

Donne estuvo en Colombia en junio, acompañando a una delegación del Partido Laborista. Los británicos sostuvieron reuniones con dirigentes políticos y voceros del Gobierno. Incluso invitaron a Gaviria a Londres y Bruselas, pero él se excusó por compromisos previos.

Donne was in Colombia in June, accompanying a Labour Party delegation. The Brits met with politic leaders and Government spokespersons. They even invited Gaviria to London and Brussels, but he declined because of prior engagements.

El representante del Polo Wilson Borja, que sí viajó a Europa, dijo anoche que en ninguna de las reuniones que tuvieron con los laboristas usaron términos ofensivos en contra del Presidente.

PDA representative Wilson Borja, who did go to Europe, said last evening that none of the meetings they had with British Labourites used offensive terms to describe the president.

Yo no rehúyo responsabilidades (…) Usted prefirió tener como cierto un comportamiento inexistente que podía utilizarse en contra del Polo y de su presidente, dijo Carlos Gaviria, en carta al ministro Santos.

“I am not trying to avoid responsibility … But you would prefer to view as true reports about conduct that I never engaged in, in order to use it against the Pole and its president,” Gaviria wrote in a letter to Santos.

Información inexacta, el lado oscuro de los ‘blogs’

Imprecise information, the dark side of the “blogs”

A kind of boneheaded excursion into a belaboring of the epistemologically obvious commences here.

Because imprecise information is the dark side of the intellectual apparatus of naked apes in general.

Blogs are merely means of transmitting it.

The problem of lying is not appreciably different (1) when the lie is told to your face and (2) when you read it on a blog.

The notion that it is is a sort of Big Lie in its own right, I think.

Teams of reporters, editors, and other publishing professionals who have time-tested collaborative procedures for checking information before publishing it, on the other hand, represent a method of compensating for this innate shortcoming of your average naked ape.

This is why good information costs money to produce, while Comment is Free.

Free as in beer:

“… the solution to — and cause of — all of life’s problems” –Homer J. Simpson


Los ‘blogs’ han sido descritos como una revolución pues -como dijo en una entrevista Steve Outing, pionero del periodismo digital en E.U.- permiten “empoderar las masas, escuchar las voces que no son oídas… Todos pueden poseer una ‘imprenta’ y crear nuevas comunidades basadas en intereses específicos. Mantener vigilancia sobre los medios tradicionales… Y todo esto, por poco o ningún costo”.

Blogs have been described as a revolution, because — as Steve Outing, a pioneer of digital journalism in the U.S. — they enable “an empowerment of the masses, hearing voices that are not heard … everyone has a “printing press” and can create new communities based on specific interests. Keep watch on the traditional media … and all of this at little or no cost.”

“Revolutionary” and “magic” are the top two primary indicators that the “rhetoric of the technological sublime” is being foisted upon one, in my observation.

As is describing someone as a “pioneer” of the so-called “digital journalism” — a term that implies a specious distinction, first of all.

Sin embargo, los ‘blogs’ también tienen un lado oscuro, pues permiten la publicación de información inexacta. “Un ‘blogger’ mentiroso no retendrá su credibilidad por mucho tiempo, mientras sus mentiras viajan por el planeta. Pero el problema es que para cuando una mentira es corregida, esta ya se ha propagado”, dijo Outing.

And yet blogs have a dark side, because they permit the publication of incorrect information. A mendacious blogger will not retain his or her credibility for long, but his or her lies will continue to travel the planet. “The problem is that when a lie is correct, it is still being propagated,” said Outing.

When it is “outed,” as it were, as a lie.

Por su parte, J.D. Lasica, periodista y ‘blogger’ estadounidense, advirtió en el 2005: “El lado oscuro de los ‘blogs’ es que demasiados lectores son crédulos (…). Debemos estar vigilantes en detectar y confrontar mentiras”.

For his part, J.D. Lasica, a journalist and “blogger” from the United States, warned in 2005: “The dark side of blogs is that too many readers are credulous … We must be vigilant in detecting and confronting lies.”

Yawn. See also

A pesar de estos riesgos, los medios tradicionales han incluido los ‘blogs’ como parte de su contenido, escritos por sus propios lectores.

Despite these risks, traditional media have included “blogs” as part of their content, written by their own readers.

See, now, it was my impression that this was not the case with this Gaviria article.

I went and looked at Comment is Free, and I do not see where I can just go write into the content management system, cut and paste the entire text of Don Quixote, and then sign it “Pierre Menard.”

The online publication has a “commissioning editor” listed on its masthead who presumably invites people to write these things.

So I remain confused on this point. As does El Tiempo, apparently. Which seems to be gabbling here.

The point being not whether the medium of publication is print or electronic, but whether an effective editorial quality-assurance method gets applied to what gets published.

You could move the entire staff of the Wall Street Journal to a “blog” tomorrow.

If those fine folks — I am referring to the real W$J, not the Moonie-infiltrated Opinion Journal, now — continued to apply the same principles of cooperative inquiry to their work product, it would make no difference that it was now a published as a “blog.”

It would still be Wall Street Journal journalism.

Journalism is just a time-tested methodology for cooperative truth-seeking — for believing in as little nonsense as possible.

Prisoners tapping Morse code to one another through walls can engage in it. Helen Keller engaged in it by spelling things into other people’s fingers.

The medium is not the message.

It is, as McLuhan later wrote, the massage.

Sin embargo, no hay una consenso sobre si estos contenidos deben ser editados o no. Así mismo, difieren los enfoques de la legislación sobre la responsabilidad de los medios por estos contenidos. En E.U., el medio tradicional no es responsable por lo que digan los autores en sus ‘blogs’ . En Colombia, el medio sí lo es.

But there is no consenus over whether this content should be edited or not.

You can find people out there who do not believe they are subject to the laws of physics, either.

In which case there is “no consensus” on that point either.

But the point is an empty one.

Take the debate to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Let the one who believes himself exempt try to give a practical demonstration of the proposition he believes in.

That meme ends up squashed flat — and featured in the Darwin Awards, possibly.

I will tell you what my policy is: To the extent that it is not produced collaboratively by a reality-based community of persons committed to not believing in nonsense — or getting someone else to believe in nonsense — “content” is to be regarded as noise until proven otherwise.

I have academic studies to back me up on that, too. See, for example,

Likewise, there is a different to focus to different legal approaches to defining the responsibility of the media for this content. In the United States, the traditional media is not responsible for what authors say on their “blogs.” In Colombia, it is.

Same for that standard BBC disclaimer: That the Beeb is not responsible for the content of third-party Web sites, yada yada yada. Even when it links to them, or even seems to use them as sources, in some cases. See, for example:

In other words, it is disseminating sources of information and warning you that it has not checked whether they are fit for human consumption or not. Nor will it ever.

That is not its job.

Why not just put up an all-black page at that reads, simply,

  • “At the BBC, journalism is dead”?

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