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LAObserved on Los Angeles Times’ Standards

Thursday, April 20, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

LAObserved asks:

I wonder if we’ll hear from any Times editors about whether they condone a staff columnist padding the “pro” comments on a Times blog by switching between identities. Isn’t that something like a Times reporter penning a fictitious letter to the editor praising his own story? It certainly misled the readers of Hiltzik’s blog.

Isn’t it also like making up sources and stories? Janet Cooke-style? She was a Pulitzer winner too.

Nothing yet at Romenesko. Seems Times’ staffers don’t care.

The key question is if they’ve even noticed?

UPDATE: My producer just spoke with Michael Hiltzik to invite him to appear on the program. He declined.

The Times’ editor, Dean Baquet, also spoke with my producer. Mr. Baquet thanked him for calling and extending the offer to appear, which Mr. Baquet declined. Mr. Baquet added that there was “no comment from the paper at this time.”

Here’s a quote from Baquet’s immediate predecessor, John Carroll:

When the staff learned that the paper [the New York Times] had repeatedly misled its readers, the rumble became something more formidable: an insurrection. The aggrieved party was no longer merely the staff. It was the reader, and that meant the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Because the reader had been betrayed, the discontent acquired a moral force so great that it could only be answered by the dismissal of the ranking editors. The Blair scandal was a terrible event, but it also said something very positive about the Times, for it demonstrated beyond question the staff’s commitment to the reader.

UPDATE: Mr. Gary Weitman, VP for Corporate Communications for the Tribune Company also spoke with my rpoducer, and informed him “each cluster within the Tribune Company” would handle such a matter without guidance or comment from Chicago.

UPDATE: NationalReview comments.

UPDATE: Another quote from Times’ Editor-emeritus Carroll’s great throw-down:

What we’re seeing is a difference between journalism and pseudo-journalism, between journalism and propaganda. The former seeks earnestly to serve the public. The latter seeks to manipulate it.

The propaganda technique that has invaded journalism is of a particular breed. It springs not from journalistic roots but from modern politics ‘” specifically, that woeful subset known as attack politics.

In attack politics, the idea is to “define” one’s rival in the eyes of the public. This means repeating derogatory information so often that the rival’s reputation is ruined. Sometimes the information is true; sometimes it is misleading; sometimes it is simply false. A citizen who enters politics these days must face the prospect of being “defined” by smear artists equipped with computers, polls and attack ads.

And pseudonymns.


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and IndependentSources has a long link list.

Nice work on the brand by the Times’ rapid response team.

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