More often than not, what you read on the Web is the work of a single person. If you're lucky, a copy editor scanned the post quickly before making it go live -- one of dozens he or she might have to edit in a single day.
(For the record: All InfoWorld blog posts are copyedited, which is why so I don't sound quite as foolish as I otherwise might. Thank you Caroline and Uyen for saving my sorry behind.)
Don't believe me? The Columbia Review of Journalism surveyed more than 600 print publications with online editions. Slightly more than half of them fact-check online articles in the same manner that they fact-check print articles; the rest use a less-stringent process or none at all. Per Victor Navasky, the big cheese behind CRJ:
"One of the things that it appears to mean is that there’s this trade-off of standards for speed," Mr. Navasky said of those topics. "The conventional wisdom is that you have to be there first in order to get traffic, and you need traffic in order to sell ads, therefore you do not have time to do conventional copy-editing and fact-checking."
And there you have it: Internet publishing is a different beast. The problem is that readers haven't adjusted their expectations accordingly. They still expect the same kind of quality control they got when magazines were fat and happy, even though they're paying even less for it than they used to -- usually nothing at all.
Now having said that, you can still find original, well researched, well-written articles on the Web (on InfoWorld's site and elsewhere), but the vast majority of online content is none of those things. And as more of it gets machine generated, that will only get worse.
The notion behind putting magazine articles on an iPad is that, assuming people are willing to pay, publications can still afford to produce quality material without taking a financial bath. But the question is, are people willing to pay? Does quality matter? Or have we passed the point of no return, where fast and cheap trumps fast and good, and everything else be damned?
So that's today's question. Got answers? Post them below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.