(parenthetical removed after fixing the hyperlink above)
He thinks Jeff Jarvis has been too hard on the PD, that the PD’s editorial hearts are in the right place and that “no one is without fault.”
I left this comment at the blog, and look forward to his responses:
Danny – thanks for writing about the situation, but please, email or call me, or Jeff. Or Jean Dubail at the PD. There are a few errors in this post:
1. You wrote, “More to the point, the editors had their journalistic hearts in the right place; they realized the promise of media convergence and welcomed it instead of fearing it, as too many of their colleagues do.”
This is true of Jean Dubail, without question. He was our online editor. But no one else there, with whom I dealt, as the “other liberal blogger” (we never were called the Democrat or the Republican – we went by conservative or liberal, or right-leaning, left-leaning) embraced the project the way Jean did.
2. I gave money also – to Sherrod Brown and Marc Dann. No one came to me, or the other three bloggers, at the time that they went to Jeff, to tell us that the same was expected of us, period. I did not resign in sympathy – I resigned because I had the same conflict and wasn’t going to wait for them to offer me the same ultimatum.
3. The online editor, Jean Dubail, knew of Jeff’s activities as early as the last week of September. I can’t tell you why there was any lag time between that moment and Oct. 30, for the PD to identify that we needed to be under the same rules as the newsroom staff or not blog. But the PD should explain that. I know that Jean didn’t want the experiment to be torpedoed – maybe he knew Susan Goldberg wouldn’t get it – but I don’t know that. You should call and ask Jean.
5. To place bloggers under the same rules as the newsroom staff would dispense with the reasons why the project was created in the first place: to have writers who could write politically, and who were already established in the blogosphere, add a different style and different content to the PD’s political coverage. Jeff Jarvis’s point, as others have states too, is that the paper wants to look like it’s changing, without changing.
Now, what do you think the answers might be to these questions:
1. Why didn’t the PD come to all four of us to re-set the rules, but rather only went to one of us? Doesn’t that seem odd and not in sincere furtherance of the ethics rule the PD says it must uphold?
2. If this ethics rule needed to be applied to us, why didn’t HR or someone else in charge of the contracts vet us before even sending us a contract? Isn’t it reasonable to assume that papers check out or do some vetting of every single newsroom staffer to make sure no similar issues exist?
3. If the mission of the project is accepted and valued, and admittedly political in nature, how is what we were doing any different from opeds or folks like Sean Hannity or Alan Colmes?
4. Why didn’t they tell Jeff that disclosure would be adequate?
5. Finally – how does this episode fit in with all the other ethically questionable practices going on at newspapers: the Miami Herald and donating to Clinton and failing to disclose the fact that the reporter who attended an event was a reporter? On top of writing in a column that they reserve the right to keep doing this same thing? Or the fact that the Columbus Dispatch Assoc. publisher, Michael Curtin, gave $25,000 to the Vote No Casinos group last year? Curtin has been with the Dispatch for 34 years, many of them as a political reporter and editor?
Danny – Jean Dubail tried to do something really worthwhile. Our mission – the one he gave the four bloggers – was clear: we were engaged to continue to write as partisans. He’d been reading our blogs for at least two years (mine and Jeff’s at least). He had back and forth with us for nearly two months before the site went live. He has been at the PD for years. I’m not the kind of person who feels comfortable saying that I’m 100% blameless in anything, anytime. That’s just almost impossible.
But I am 100% confident here that the PD was in the power position at all times and if it’s so in control of that ethics policy, then they either have unforgiveably poor HR and management (so that they missed a step in vetting us and telling us the expectation), or they aren’t being honest about what’s really going on on their end.
Finally, what if LaTourette had done what Jay Rosen suggested: get onto the Wide Open blog with a comment and reveal Jeff? Engage in some way in the dialogue, rather than call Brent Larkin, a longtime editor at the PD?
Danny, there are so many other ways this could have gone. Susan Goldberg picked the least best possible solution, if anyone wants us to believe that anyone besides Jean had their editorial hearts in the right places.
I know – I was there along the way – and before Susan Goldberg.