Vetting: Something Other Than Pets, ADC, Part 27

Recent Blog posts have focused on one dimension or another of the print medium. A fair distance, some say, from matters of accumulating, decorating, and collecting.

True enough. If only on the surface.

A related dimension of print media, more tightly wedded to collecting interests, is the vetting process as used by legacy media. A process rarely duplicated in the digital world.

Collectors are interested in information. Not rumors. Or suppositions. Nice guesses or well-intentioned intuition are likewise unhelpful.

Information. Facts. Data for which there is evidence.

In academic journals, blind review to referee scholarship has long been practiced as a way to assess the merit of a manuscript submitted for publication consideration.

Journal editors distribute manuscripts to a jury of expert readers for judgment about publishing the ms. with author identification absent. Without author identification, the jury’s judgment cannot be based on personal factors (such as reputation of the author) and should be grounded in the merit of the manuscript.

It’s a good system. Though it can be gamed, the refereeing process assures readers that the article they read merits their attention.

Among academic journals, a manuscript acceptance rate of 25 percent isn’t uncommon. Stated in reverse: three-quarters of all manuscript submitted for editorial review are rejected.

Outside of academe, a similar though less rigorous process is followed. Assignment editors, copy editors, and fact checkers work together to ensure accuracy and the completeness of reports published in their magazines, newspapers, and books.

And in the digital world? Clearly, it is the most democratic medium invented to date. A device and an Internet connection and, presto, everyone’s a publisher. Reporter. Editor. Photographer.

It’s the Libertarian’s dream come true. A marketplace of ideas where Truth and Falsehood can engage in robust discourse.

No editors. No fact checkers. No referees or jury system.

What you see/read/hear is what you get. The epitome of that irritating expression: “It is what it is.”

The present Wildenhain Blog, for example.

Walter Cronkite, legendary CBS News anchorman used to close his evening newscast with: “And that’s the way it is . . . “

People at either extreme of the political spectrum bridled at the comment. Annoyed as much at its authoritarian as its absolute tone. Some were more self-righteous than others.

When we collectors, we connoisseurs of material culture and art complete our online investigation of you-name-it, what should our Cronkite closing be?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *