The rise of the bloggers (of which I am chief of sinners, if not king of bloggers) does something we probably never intend. That is, we create Urban Myths by the millions.
Hear me out here. Electronic technology benefits from its immediacy of contact. "News" flies thick and fast through cyberspace. The electronic universe of information expands relentlessly. Giant black holes exert inescapable gravitational pull, demanding more information still to feed its gaping maw.
Simply put, the www feeds itself as it feeds on itself. Persons untrained in journalism (me, for instance) and perhaps unconcerned with the accepted forms of verification and attribution tell a story, someone else (equally untrained) picks it up, quoting without checking for motivation or weighting for balance. Soon, we wallow in a morass that would make the "Dirty Tricks" squad of the Nixon Administration flush with envy.
The routine of mendacity does not much differ from artifice to object. A blogger may post an opinion in the morning. A second blogger may quote the first as fact in the afternoon. Their collaboration stands for corroboration by evening. The Urban Myth emerges from the vacuous cocoon, spreads filthy wings and spawns for years to come.
Verification requires work. Most of us have some small resistance to hard mental work. Why let facts get in the way of a good story, anyway? At the very least, bloggers should understand verification does not mean repetition of something read in one "source" without attempt to determine the veracity of the quote and the moral validity of the lesson learned.
Attribution helps here. If you write, "I got this from Davis," some will discount it immediately but that is still better than listing "a source," or "this is now commonly known." Let readers take Davis to task. Believe me, some try and sometimes they are right.