Val Prieto, editor of the Babalu blog, responded to Miguel Cossio's column yesterday. The response was very revealing in my opinion.
First, Cossio's column, which is 787 words, only mentions the Babalu blog in ONE sentence (posted in Part 1). Cossio actually criticizes "many blogs" as "irresponsible." And, the column only spends ONE paragraph on blogs (92 words mostly about PerezHilton.Com, NOT Babalu blog), and the rest speaks about ethical considerations for mostly journalists (and even some bloggers) in his profession.
It seems that Val Prieto DID NOT read the entire column. (Prieto even made an error initially describing Cossio as an employee of El Nuevo Herald, but corrected almost 4 hours later after a commenter [Adela] points it out.)
Prieto writes: "I would think that a more apt use of [Cossio's] expertise and valuable time would be not to call out some "lowly blog" [Prieto's words not Cossio's] for actually telling its readers what is going on at some precise moment in time, but, say, for maybe exposing how his colleagues at the [Mainstream Media] tailor their coverage of Cuba to suit the Cuban regime, all to be able to remain on the island for the "big story."
But, Cossio doesn't waste him time with "lowly blogs", instead Cossio is mainly speaking to the news stations who decided to report about the rumors of Fidel Castro's death, some in front of Versailles as Cossio points out. The brief mention about bloggers reveals that Cossio is (and perhaps other news editors are) using blogs as a source of information, of course with great caution, but nevertheless with some kind of confidence in their reporting. Cossio was obviously let down by some, including the Babalu blog.
And, Cossio's comments also address issues that journalists (and some bloggers) in or out of Cuba obviously face: state secrecy. He clearly states:
"Rumor about [Fidel] Castro's state of health is a complex situation to manage, because it lacks reliable information, product of the secrecy that guards the regime in Havana. However, the media [which now includes some blogs that report news] should not echo rumors, although neither totally ignore them. But they should adhere to the rules and foundations of their trade."
I posted links to where those rules and foundations can be found in Part 1, and they are ethical guides that serve all people who wish to report the news, professionally or not, in or out of Cuba. But, it seems that Val Prieto doesn't care for these standards, and neither does El Gusano from La Contra Revolución blog who continues to post about the latest rumors from Cuba.
Instead, Prieto, like many others, have assumed the very convenient position of the null hypothesis. Prieto writes to Cossio:
"And for the record, I, editor in chief of Babalu Blog, speaking only for myself, stand by the statement 'fidel castro is dead.' Unless, of course, one of your colleagues, or yourself, decides to grow some balls, throw 'the bureau' caution to the wind and go to Cuba, do some real investigative reporting and prove me wrong."
Very convenient indeed. But, Cossio does have an explanation for Prieto's behavior in this case. Cossio wrote in his column that rumors "have attraction and respond more to desire than the truth." In my opinion, the writers of Babalu blog have prioritized their self-gratification in much of their writings about Cuba. Their main purpose is to present an extremely negative view of Cuba (dismissing several facts on the contrary) in promotion of a traditional doctrine that supports and justifies an overthrow of the Cuban government.
No doubt that many wish Fidel Castro were dead already (part of the hoped destabilization of Cuba), but that doesn't permit us to present it as truth. Neither should we blindly succumb to old doctrines, or long forgotten desires for violence.