Last week, I wrote about a blogger named David Seaman who was a contributor for Business Insider. Business Insider is much like another website that I wrote about in the past called Triond. Both websites allow anybody and everybody to start accounts and contribute stories to their website. The same is true for the “Free Speech Zone” of the Daily Planet, so there is nothing inherently wrong with that kind of site. However, it does mean that contributors on those kind of sites are not automatically journalists. David Seaman, for instance, I can emphatically say is not a journalist. He’s a commentator, or a blogger, but not a journalist.
Journalists write about both sides of an argument and every side of a story. David Seaman wrote opinion articles which rarely if ever contained factual information. Journalists do not cast themselves as the heroes in their own stories. David Seaman cast himself as the hero time and time again, like he was a one man army taking on the great evil of government and power hungry corporate entities.
Now I want to be objective as possible and not resort to rhetoric. Let’s not just assume that his articles were vapid and lacking in information, let’s actually look at them: there’s his last article, “While you were searching for Kim Kardashian…” which contains no factual information and is merely a lengthy warning that the Stop Online Piracy Act “threatens the very existence of free speech,” although he doesn’t bother to write of what is in the legislation nor what actual, specific implications of the bill are.
Then there was his “NBC News blocked me from commenting on NDAA and SOPA.” This was the article that he, presumably, lost his account over. He alleged that NBC News secretly conspired to silence him. NBC responded by saying that he had repeatedly spammed their Google+ page with comments about the NDAA and SOPA (including links which may have been to his own articles, although I’m not entirely sure about this).
Then there was “NDAA and SOPA: the end of America?” Again, no factual information, unless you consider his warning that SOPA is the greatest threat to our freedom in the history of American civilization a fact. Which I don’t.
Then there’s “Credit Card Promotions” article. His only article this year containing facts. Nice work, Mr. Seaman! You suck at informing your readers about legislation, but at least you can help us pick an appropriate credit card!
Then there’s “Most Powerful, Moving NDAA Video I’ve Seen,” which (as implied by the title) is another opinion piece containing no factual information.
Then he had written two articles about Rush Limbaugh’s on-air rants about the NDAA, along with a couple of commentaries on the lack of accurate information in the mainsteam media about Ron Paul.
Other than that, there were a few articles on “Media silence” regarding the NDAA, and back in December, a number of articles accusing Twitter of silencing him for talking about both the NDAA and the occupy movement, which Twitter responded to by saying — surprise, surprise — that he had actually had his account suspended for (would you believe it?) spamming his articles. But I’m sure that, although he’s repeatedly been accused of spamming, it’s a simple matter of a vast conspiracy to silence the mighty and powerful voice of the unpaid Business Insider contributer.
Here’s my problem: if you’ve only informed yourself by reading David’s articles, you would be unaware of the amendments preventing Americans from being indefinitely detained in the NDAA, because he never mentioned them and he repeatedly insisted that Americans could be indefinitely detained under the language of the bill. This isn’t true. What IS true is that as the law has existed for a while now, arresting and detaining American citizens who are “hostile” to America is possible. It’s also, theoretically, unconstitutional, so I don’t know what to say.
I know that a lot of people read what I’m saying and think that I should shut up, because the world is a better place with people fighting against increased federal power, no matter the means. But in my opinion, the worst possible thing you can do is win the favor of the public with lies, especially when those lies are self serving. And Seaman’s lies are self serving (IE being “silenced” by Twitter and NBC), and he reported on Rush Limbaugh solely (in my opinion) because he referenced one of David’s articles.
Sorry that you’re no longer a contributer, David, because you have a few qualities that could make you a great journalist. You’re clearly tenacious, you’re clearly relentless, and you’re clearly passionate about certain issues, even if one of those issues is yourself.
UPDATE: Yesterday (1/17/12) Conor Adams Sheets of the International Business Times reported that Business Insider’s (what’s with these absurdly generic names?) CEO Henry Blodget has contradicted David Seaman’s claim that he was no longer a contributor to their site. “David was never ‘dismissed’ as a contributor. He also wasn’t ‘re-accepted,'” Blodget wrote. “We have some contributors who post directly to the site and others who work with editors. Given the contentiousness [of] some of the issues David chooses to write about, we figured it was wise to have an editor involved. David has done some excellent work on NDAA and other topics, and we look forward to publishing more of it.”
I can’t account for the discrepancy between the two side’s accounts of what happened. Maybe somebody else can.