September 21, 2007

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Well, Pinch finally woke up and smelled the coffee, pulling the plug on TimesSelect. Like many, I predicted the inevitable, but underestimated (by some eighteen months!) how long it would take the Times management to join the "reality based" community.

As usual, Mickey Kaus (the thinking person's favorite liberal pundit) was all over this story from the beginning.

September 21, 2007 at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

Kick'em when they're down department

Slate's press critic, Jack Shafer, really doesn't like former NYT executive editor Howell Raines' new memoir. Seems like Raines' book reads just like the paper he used to run: facts which get in the way of the message are simply ignored.

May 19, 2006 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2006

Justice Served at the LAT

The LAT's editors appear to have acted quickly to discipline veteran reporter Michael Hiltzik for posting phony comments on his and other people's blogs. The editors cancelled his blog and twice-weekly business column and suspended him for an undisclosed period of time pending reassignment to another beat. They deserve credit for doing the right thing.

In contrast, the NYT's editors once again demonstrated their lack of shame, running a full-page ad listing all the Pulitzer Prizes won by the paper over the years, including the 1932 prize awarded to Walter Duranty for what turned out to be willfully misleading "reporting" on Stalin's socialist paradise. (No link available.) For more on the NYT's history of biased (and ultimately misleading foreign reporting) read this interesting review by Jonathan Alter in last week's book review section.

May 1, 2006 at 06:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 21, 2006

So Much for Journalistic "Ethics"

Blogger Patterico, whose "real life" job is prosecuting criminals for the LA County DA's office, has busted the LAT's business columnist Michael Hiltzik for posting comments on his own (and other people's blogs) under phony names. In response, the LAT's editors suspended Hiltzik's LAT-sponsored blog "Golden State" for breach of the paper's ethical guidelines requiring their employees to correctly identify themselves to the public. (By the way, Hiltzik is a twenty five year veteran of the LAT and won a Pulitzer prize in 1999 for exposing corruption in the music business.)

Now, 'splain to me again how professionally-trained journalists with their layers of editorial fact-checking and adult supervision are so much more responsible than the guttersnipes of the blogosphere? At least most bloggers I know would never stoop to posting bogus comments praising their own views and pillorying their critics. Good detective work, Patterico.


The WaPo's media reporter, Howard Kurtz, has a good piece on the LAT's suspension of Michael Hiltzik's column/blog.

The bizarre, and troubling part of all of this is why should a respected, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist resort to this kind of crap? Personally, I have been surprised at the hostility and defensiveness I've encountered from journalists when they learn that I'm a blogger. There is no way to be sure, but I suspect that a lot of this hostility is resentment at what they perceive as a diminution of their privileged status. Previously, journalists were free to criticise others whose only recourse would be to write a letter to the editor that their institution could freely edit or ignore, as they wished. Now, with blogs, anyone can respond, and criticize, and point out hypocrisy and inconsistencies wherever they find them. Evidently, it's enough to drive some of them around the bend in an attempt to regain some of their old power to shape public opinion.

Sad, really.

Further Update

Howard Kurtz has more in his Monday column, including the interesting information that Hiltzik was recalled from the WaPo's Moscow bureau for hacking into colleague's personal email accounts in 1993:

He was exposed through an internal sting operation when he asked about phony messages that had been sent to other staffers in the bureau.

"His answer was that he was nosy and curious," says Carey Goldberg, a former colleague in the Moscow bureau who now works for the Boston Globe. "We were extremely upset. It was an incredible invasion of privacy. There were a lot of personal e-mails in there."

I hate to cast stones, but Mr. Hiltzik does appear to have something of an honesty deficit. Perhaps blogging, which after all is unsupervised (except by its readers), requires a higher level of ethics and intellectual honesty than does traditional journalism, where editors and fact checkers are supposed to enforce basic ethical standards.

April 21, 2006 at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 19, 2006

Brit Hume, an Underappreciated Star

Today's WaPo has a great profile by Howard Kurtz of Fox News' Brit Hume. Personally, I find Hume's 6pm Special Report to be, hands down, the best news program on television. I particularly enjoy the panel discussion segment where conservatives (like Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer) speak with (and not past) moderates like Mort Kondracke and intelligent liberals like Mara Liaason.

It was something of a cheap shot, however, for Kurtz to lead off his article with a story Hume did 36 years ago, that he now admits he wishes he shouldn't have done.

Thirty-six years ago, as a long-haired reporter for columnist Jack Anderson, Hume was handed information that Spiro Agnew's son had left his wife and moved in with a male hairdresser. Hume tracked down the vice president's son in Baltimore, talked his way in with a made-up tale about reports that Randy Agnew was living in a "hippie crash pad" and confirmed the details. Although Hume expressed strong reservations about the story -- his wife thought it was disgraceful -- he convinced himself that it could be a big deal.

Why start with this sorry tale rather then, say, Hume's scoop digging up a memo linking Nixon Attorney General Richard Kleindienst to the settlement of an anti-trust suit against ITT after it gave a $400,000 contribution to the RNC? But this nit aside, if you read the whole story, Kurtz paints a detailed portrait of an interesting -- and underappreciated -- American journalist.

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April 19, 2006 at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

More Pirates in the News

Here is what those caring folks at the RIAA told an MIT undergrad who balked at paying them $3,750 to drop a lawsuit over illegal music downloads:

. . . the RIAA has been known to suggest that students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements.

No word yet on the RIAA's policy regarding limbs, first born children, etc.

(Hat tip to Good Morning Silicon Valley.)

April 7, 2006 at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Liberal Arab Opinion on the Internet

Wretchard's reflections on liberal Arab intellectuals on the web is worth reading. Also check out this link to the english language portion of the Middle East Transparent web site.

February 10, 2006 at 09:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

Now Everyone Can Buy Ink by the Barrel

I've been meaning to write about the political significance of the rise of the Fox News Network and the blogosphere for some time now. As frequently happens, others have beaten me to the punch.

Take, for example, Peggy Noonan's column at the Opinion Journal yesterday:

I don't think Democrats understand that the Alito hearings were, for them, not a defeat but an actual disaster. The snarly tone the senators took with a man most Americans could look at and think, "He's like me," and the charges they made--You oppose women and minorities, you only like corporations and not the little guy--went nowhere. Once those charges would have taken flight, would have launched, found their target and knocked down any incoming Republican. Not any more. It's over.

Eleven years ago the Democrats lost control of Congress. Then they lost the presidency. But just as important, maybe more enduringly important, they lost their monopoly on the means of information in America. They lost control of the pipeline. Or rather there are now many pipelines, and many ways to use the information they carry. The other day, Dana Milbank, an important reporter for the Washington Post, the most important newspaper in the capital, wrote a piece deriding Judge Alito. Once such a piece would have been important. Men in the White House would have fretted over its implications. But within hours of filing, Mr. Milbank found his thinking analyzed and dismissed on the Internet; National Review Online called him a "policy bimbo."

Or, perhaps even more tellingly, consider this article from earlier in the month by Katharine Q. Seelye in the NYT:

Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, or so goes the old saw. For decades, the famous and the infamous alike largely followed this advice. Even when subjects of news stories felt they had been misunderstood or badly treated, they were unlikely to take on reporters or publishers, believing that the power of the press gave the press the final word.

The Internet, and especially the amplifying power of blogs, is changing that. Unhappy subjects discovered a decade ago that they could use their Web sites to correct the record or deconstruct articles to expose what they perceived as a journalist's bias or wrongheaded narration.

But now they are going a step further. Subjects of newspaper articles and news broadcasts now fight back with the same methods reporters use to generate articles and broadcasts - taping interviews, gathering e-mail exchanges, taking notes on phone conversations - and publish them on their own Web sites. This new weapon in the media wars is shifting the center of gravity in the way that news is gathered and presented, and it carries implications for the future of journalism.

She's right of course, it does have implications for the future of journalism, but also for American politics. In the bad old days, the largely East Coast liberal elite media ordinarily controlled the agenda for public debate. If a news story appeared in the NYT or WaPo or on CBS, then it was considered newsworthy and would be taken up over the following days by newspapers and television journalists across the land. Conversely, if one of these papers did not cover a story, then it was considered out of the mainstream and rarely gained any traction in other media outlets. There were exceptions, of course, like the role played by the WSJ's editorial page regarding Whitewater and the related Clinton scandals. (Though this story was originally broken by the NYT, they did not aggressively follow-up as they would have if, mutatis mutandis, Clinton had been a conservative Republican.) But in general, this rule applied.

Now this rulebook has been thrown out the window. WIth Fox News and the blogosphere, the largely liberal MSM can no longer push stories down the memory hole by simply ignoring them. (As, for example, they tried to do with the Kerry Swift Boat story during the 2004 elections.) Conversely, the NYT or CBS or the WaPo can no longer rely on the rest of the media world to fall into line when they decide something is news.

Howell Raines, famously, did not understand this new paradigm. For example, he tried, by pure repetition, to make a national issue over the Augusta Golf Club's tradition of not admitting women. His NYT ran something like 90 stories on the subject, in spite of the fact that only a handful of kooky local protesters managed to show up and protest during the Master's Tournement. More seriously, Raines' NYT was unable to ignite the political firestorm they so badly wanted over the release of the photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. They ran an above-the-fold, page one story on Abu Ghraib every day for more than three weeks running. Raines was acting like one of those cartoon British colonialists who raise their voice so the natives can understand them. However, the American public, thanks to other sources of news and analysis, judged that this was an isolated incident and was important only as a propaganda weapon that could be used against the US in the Islamic world (or against the administration in this country). In the end, President Bush kept his job and Howell Raines lost his.

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Monopolies are good things if you happen to own one or work for one. But they are not very conducive to economic efficiency or open political debate. Thanks to Messrs. Murdock and Ailes, as well as blogosphere pioneers like Glenn Reynolds and Charles Johnson, we now have some real competition in the marketplace of ideas.

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January 21, 2006 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Self Censorship in the NYT

Steve Cuozzo does a good job of skewering the NYT in a column in today's NY Post regarding the Times' blatant hypocrisy with regard to eminent domain. For those who are not keeping score, the NYT partnered with controversial developer Bruce Ratner in the construction of their new headquarters in midtown Manhattan. (Ratner is also trying to develop a new basketball arena and residential and office complex in over and around the MTA's Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, that may use eminent domain to condemn a large number of private homes and businesses to make room for the mega-project.) The NYT's HQ project used eminent domain to condemn a large number of small and large businesses, thereby acquiring their property at bargain basement prices, or forcing them out of business. But while the Times' wrote yesterday about the political backlash against eminent domain abuse in the wake of the USSC's Kelo decision, the piece never mentioned the NYT's own economic interest in supporting the practice.

And I thought liberals were supposed to be against taking from the poor to give to the rich?

January 19, 2006 at 06:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2005

Springtime for Halibut

I like NYT gossip columnist Campbell Robertson's post-narrative style. Since the NYT is never going to be able to compete with Page Six for gossip, why not let the talented Mr. Robertson write about politics? It's got to be better than what they have now.

Mickey Kaus links to Steven Barton who references a Daily News column by Lloyd Grove reporting (try saying that three times fast) on rumors that a "dump Pinch" movement is sweeping the NYT's newsroom. That would be a step in the right direction, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't know anything about the Sulzberger family's internal dynamics, but I doubt that they are quite willing to break out the long knives just yet. (Now if NYT's stock price continues to decline into, say, the mid-teens, all bets are off.)

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December 6, 2005 at 09:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack