Good for goose….

The New York Times is now making freelancers fill out a questionnaire “about their affiliations, work history, financial and personal connections and any past instances when questions were raised about the accuracy or originality of their work.” Why shouldn’t every journalist fill out such questionnaires? And why shouldn’t they be made public?

  • Hafner

    And every pharmacist and every stockbroker and every carpenter and every programmer — anybody we’re putting our trust in. Gee, Jeff, why not findout everything about everybody? it will eventually appear on the Internet. Then we can all play gotcha on each other’s lives.

    (If your father was a Nixon confidante, do you get to add that you were the black sheep of the family?)

  • Haf….if there is a “gotcha” to be seen….then we all need to know what it is so we can decide if we want to interact with you. Anyone who doesn’t want to reveal something has something to hide. If I am reading a piece by a journalist I assume it is unbiased. If he/she has some hidden affiliations that could result in a hidden agenda. That’s OK but I want to know it so I can decide how to use that information.

  • One more step, Jeff. Database the info and post it on a Django-run site:

  • Hafner

    “Unbiased” should be inherent in the act of journalism. If the method is to observe, record and report without subjective adjectives. But it gets more complicated.

    A tool to sift propaganda, pr and stealth marketing would be a type of spam filter — weeding out the obvious ringers, but inexact and easy enough to outwit. Public affiliations are usually chosen for career enhancement, so the party worker with a knack for words could probably get filtered.

    But affiliations that are hidden don’t have names. The journalist won’t disclose, “Me and a few other guys copy emails to each other, and get together for dinner once in a while.” (Of course this needn’t be sinister, but the “why” depends on who they are.)

    But if full disclosure requires all that might hint at bias, it would extend to serious journalists, not just freelancers, and to “X of the Mighty Media Advertiser has dinner at the Algonquin Club every month with a group that includes Z.”

    Now Z may be a source, the mayor, a kid from the old neighborhood, a co-conspirator (but not all of these, I would hope). Disclosure will effectively end those dinners (or send thme into a private home) and perhaps send the emails to a darknet.

    You’ll no longer get to “decide how to use that information” because it will dry up.

    Meanwhile, those of you applying for the journalism expert job know you better come clean about any flag-burning, racist, pro-life dress-wearing TV evangelist uncles, and porn subs too.

  • Mike G

    This is like a drug test– it’s not really going to solve any problems, it’s just going to get in the way of using something good from somebody because of something 10 years ago. One more way for mediators to make themselves irrelevant because they get in between a good piece of writing and its public.

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  • I. F. Stoner

    The Times memo says:
    “Nearly three years ago, the Siegal Committee recommended that The Times learn more about its stringers and freelancers, to ensure that their ethical standards and credentials are equal to those of our regular staff.”

    Equal to our regular staff? That’s too rich!! ROTFLOL!!! I…can’t…stop…laughing!!!! Oh, damn, that’s good…*sigh* Oh my, I needed a good laugh…

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