Guilty by association

The Times takes another chance to slap blogs:

In the last few years, newspapers around the country have been testing the waters of the seldom-restrained, often scrappy world of Web-based journalism by setting their reporters loose to write their own blogs.

Last week, the experiment backfired for The Los Angeles Times. The newspaper suspended the blog of one of its columnists after it was revealed that he had posted comments on the paper’s Web site and elsewhere on the Web under false names.

Well, that’s like saying that The New York Times’ experiment in journalism backfired with Jayson Blair. This isn’t about blogging as a form. This is about journalists being afraid to deal with people, eye-to-eye.

It continues trying to make blogs look new, different, and scary:

The incident has underscored the difficulties that can arise when a newspaper gives free rein to staff writers on the Web.

Well, same goes for reporters talking on radio or TV or in speeches or in bars. Maybe they should travel around all the time with an editor.

  • Yeah, the experiment didn’t backfire so much as their choice of lab technicians.

  • Reporters in bars?!?!?! Perish the thought :)

  • Michael Hiltzik’s (the reporter\blogger) description of a journalistic blog as nothing more than “an unfiltered online diary” reveals his own misconceptions about the medium and its uses.

  • I would love to see a couple of editors following a journalist for a few days. Im sure he’ll be able to tell stories from then on about his personal life if he thinks that weblog only serve that purpose.

  • Well, reporters talking on radio and TV is a problem, too (see Okrent’s column from last year about The Times’ take on it: The fact is that reporters should restrain themselves in forums outside the news columns. This hadn’t been much of a problem, given that a number of early bloggers were critics, columnists, or other official opinionistas. But now that every City Hall, school board, and other reporter is blogging, newsrooms do need to make sure the line isn’t crossed. I’d like to think that quality control (in addition to access and resources) is what separates print from most bloggers. Most newsroom have codified their ethical guidelines — does Jarvis suggest throwing those to the wind or a completely different set of standards for on-line discourse? Seems schizo, at best.

  • The hypocrisy/irony never ends. The self-styled vanguards of freedom of speech muzzle their own journalists.

    $24.29 per share, NYT’s stock on sale at an 8.5 year low.

  • jeremy in NYC

    Yeah, what Jim said. The idea was good, but you don’t want to hand the expensive equipment over to a sock puppet.

  • I think the bigger picture is the lack of rules about blogging for and about your employer and employment. I don’t think blogging should be banned, but at what point does shooting your mouth off about how bad your company is become unacceptable? When I worked in the legal field we were expressly allowed to gripe all we wanted as long in public places (restaurants, etc) as long as names and other identifying information was left out. Since this was in a fairly small city, this meant we griped in fairly general terms.

  • Kevin Peters

    The L.A. Times ethic’s code states that the use of psuedonyms by their writers on other blogs and on their own blogs is unethical. They already have the standards, Hiltzik just ignored them. The L.A. Times has , especially Tim Rutten, has been on a Jihad against the blogosphere for a couple of years. Hiltzik is trying to narrow the debate about his actioons strictly around the use of pseudonyms. When Patterico first challenged Hiltzik about his actions he was very, very, clear that the issue wasn’t about pseudonyms, it was about Hiltzik deceiving his readers, pseudoynms was just the tool he used to do it. I don’t use them but I understand why some people do and many of them don’t use them to lie.

    The fact that the MSM sends one of their most respected writers out into the blogosphere and that this “journalist” acts in an unethical manner says nothing about blogs. Hiltzik’s response to Patterico speaks volumes about the MSM. Patterico went after Hiltzik hard but the one thing he did not attack Hiltzik for was the use of pseudonyms. How did Hiltzik respond? By creating a strawman argument about pseudinyms, the one thing that Frey did not go after him for. He even had the gall to charge Frey with hypocrisy for using pseudonyms himself. Hiltzik tried to deceive his readers. Patterico called him on it. Hiltzik defends himself by misrepresenting Frey’s argument and not responding to what Frey accused him of. This is classic MSM tactics. Blogs are not the issue. Personel integrity is.

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  • I’ve been alternately laughing and shaking my head at this whole thing since friday.

    It’s a matter of Hiltzik not knowing a*thing* about the blogosphere from personal experience, having his own prejudices about it (*everybody* uses pseudonymns), and then thinking that somebody wouldn’t ferrit out his ruse.

    What a dope. As dopey as the Wal-Mart bloggers. As dopey as “Clooneygate.”

    Apparently, there’s a whole lot of dopeyness going around.

    As others have said, it’s not the medium, it’s the user. In Hiltzik’s case, someone should have given him a copy of “Blogging for Dummies” before they set him loose in the blogosphere. I blame the L.A. Times for the oversight.

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