January 10, 2004
Adopt a Campaign Journalist in 2004: The Drift of a Suggestion
Over the holidays, an idea gained some Net traction: webloggers "adopting" a campaign reporter. That means you monitor and collect all the reporter's work, and then... And then what? Follow the turns as the suggestion is taken up and debated.
Saturday Night, Jan. 10: Link flow and blog authority have been combining in the atmosphere. In sequence:
Dec. 23. At the Daily Kos, Vet 4 Dean reacts to discussion at Blog For America, the Dean campaign’s main gig:
Earlier today on DFA, there was a good bit of discussion of the latest piece of “journalism” committed by Ms. Jodi Wilgoren in the NY Times. Well, I decided it was time to lose my blogging virginity and created The Wilgoren Watch.
Dec. 23. And he does. The Wilgoren Watch: “Dedicated to deconstructing the New York Times coverage of Howard Dean’s campaign for the White House.” (The inaugural post.)
Dec. 28. At Steve Gilliard’s News Blog, Gilliard says he has had enough: Time to Take the Gloves Off:
The media in America lives in a dual world, one where they want to hold people accountable, yet flip out when people do the same to them…
I think it would be a really, really good idea to track reporters, word for word, broadcast for broadcast, and print the results online. Not just for any one campaign or cause, but to track people’s reporting the way we track other services….
Keeping score of who’s right and wrong, how many times they repeat cannards like Al Gore invented the Internet and make obvious errors. Not accusations of ideology, but actual data and facts.
Dec. 30. Reacting to Gilliard’s idea, Atrios gives it a second. Hardball: “We should have an ‘adopt a journalist’ program. As Steve suggets, people should choose a journalist, follow everything they write, archive all their work, and critique and contextualize it where appropriate.”
Dec. 30. Atrios returns to the subject, noting that the Wilgoren Watch already exists: “I’m not going to organize this but feel free to forward on links. I’ll set up a special blogroll section.” But he cautions:
…ideally whoever does this shouldn’t just be doing instant reaction. I’m thinking of archiving all of their work (on your hard drive - copyright and all), and really tracing through and providing context for all their work. This includes talking heads appearances, too.
Dec. 30. Ex Lion Tamer: “Gilliard’s Modest Proposal.”
Dec. 30. See Why? “Eschaton has a cool idea.”
Dec. 31. At Liberal Pride, an Adopt-a-Journalist Forum is created, “to facilitate the project that was conceived at Eschaton.”
Jan. 1. Shadow of the Hegemon: “I’d like to see two versions of it.”
The first is that it should be per-journalist. I think that makes sense, and will provide a real impetus to change when the journo figures out that the only way to get this guy off his back is to stop pandering to the right.
The other idea is a per-issue focus, where specific falsehoods like “Al Gore created the internet” are targeted.
I don’t think these two are incompatible. What would be most useful is if those who were focusing on specific falsehoods create “falsehood FAQs…”
Jan 3. PressThink on horse race journalism: “Meanwhile, the weblog world is starting to stir a bit with the idea of monitoring individual campaign reporters. (But for what?)…”
Jan. 5. Halley of Halley’s Comment in the comments at PressThink: “I especially liked the idea of bloggers tracking reporters (per Steve Gilliard) and anticipating what they will say. Their no-story reporting style is lamentably obsolete.”
Jan. 6. Pipeline: “Look for the way they use various labels for unnamed sources to insert their own ideas and biases into stories. David Brooks isn’t really a reporter, but I feel like I’m covering his columns every day they come out, so maybe I’ll adopt him.”
Jan 6. Reporter Alan Judd of the Atlanta Constitution emails PressThink: “The idea of ‘tracking’ individual campaign reporters—as on Wilgoren Watch—is absurd. The people behind such efforts would be satisified with nothing other than stories effusively praising Howard Dean and blasting Bush as the great satan. What they advocate isn’t press criticism, it’s stalking.”
Jan. 9. Wilogren Watch, “Welcome Ms. Wilogren: “…my little blog has attracted 16 ‘regulars’ who have signed up for the Yahoo Group! e-mail list to be notified of new posts. Including, it seems, one Ms. Jodi Wilgoren from the NYTimes. Welcome, Ms. Wilgoren.”
A Reference Point. The Charen Watch has been in existence since Jan. 17, 2003. Mission statement:
Mona Charen is a Media Whore.
What exactly is a media whore? A “journalist” in name only, perfectly willing without any hesitation to distort, obfuscate, exaggerate, skew, or hide the Truth to advance their personal views or agendas….
Charen Watch is a site devoted solely to critiquing Ms. Charen as her work is posted bi-weekly from the Creators Syndicate site.
I have ideas and questions about this, which may come later. (They did. Go here.) Meanwhile the bar is open, people. Hit the comment button and say what you think. (So 24 hours later…)
Sunday Night, Jan. 11
Discussion has picked up in Blogistan…
Ex Lion Tamer: Pressthink adopts a somewhat dismissive tone toward the ‘adopt a journalist’ meme— um, maybe because they’re journalists? Call me crazy…”
Dan Gillmor: “I like the idea that people are watching what I say and correcting me if I get things wrong — or challenging my conclusions, based on the same facts (or facts I hadn’t know about when I wrote the piece.) This is a piece of tomorrow’s journalism, and we in the business should welcome the feedback and assistance that, if we do it right, becomes part of a larger conversation. But if the idea is to create some kind of organized collection of Truth Squads, I’m less comfortable.” (Posted in comments here also.)
Jeff Jarvis: “When you know something or find out something that somebody in the press got wrong, shout it from the mountaintop and people will listen. When, instead, you keep harping that you can’t stand Dowd or Krugman or Dan or me, well, you’re only further spreading the Internet’s ill-deserved reputation for personal attack and innuendo.” (Also in comments here.)
Laurence at AmishTechSupport: “Adopt a Campaign Journalist for what amounts to stalking and fact-checking the press-credentialed lapdogs of each campaign.”
Matthew J. Stinson: “In the end it seems like the primary goal of the ‘watch’ blog folks is to force polarization and destroy nuance in the media rather than correct the record. I’m not disturbed by the notion that journalists should be fact-checked, but I find it more than a little troubling that some in the blogosphere think we need a Ministry of Truth.”
Tom Mangan in comments: “I’d have more optimism if any of the volunteer press watchdogs had an ounce of objectivity about them.”
Ex Lion Tamer in comments: “Mr. Mangan and his skeptical colleagues might be wary of appearing disingenuous here—after all, as a news editor he stands in the direct line of fire of we self-appointed pointy-eared blogger media watchdogs. Is there something disconcerting about being held to account by one’s readers? There’s not much difference between what we do and a letter to the editor, except that you don’t do the editing, we do.”
Jesse in comments: “For many of the ‘watchers,’ the goal is not to talk to the journalist, but instead to readers of their work, to not let falsehoods, whether real or perceived, stand. That’s part of the point of public debate, is it not?”
cat in comment thread at Atrios: “Rosen is viewing this movement with apparent alarm and ridicule, mentioning Atrios, Kos, Steve, et al. Most of his commenters are media/jounalism types who take a dim view of our out-of-the-mainstream efforts.”
Mary Hodder in comments: The Wilgoren Watch doesn’t have an About section, we don’t know who he is or what he does, and in the same way he wants to criticize other’s work, he’s left out information that would allow his audience to know his biases and experience, and take those into account when reading his work.”
And… they’re listening in Germany.
Atrios returns to the subject at Eschaton: “be in depth about it. Archive all of their work, look for inconsistencies across their own writing. It doesn’t have to be all nasty criticism. Criticism can be both good and bad - it’s important to remember that….mostly what I’m talking about are people covering the ‘04 campaign, and mostly what I’m talking about are straight journalists and not the pundits.”
Al Giordano in comments here: “If there is any journalist out there who is afraid of this wave that is pounding upon our shores, it is time for him and her to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask: What have we become? And how did that happen? It happened because we only get scrutinized from inside our own clubhouse, and, then, only according to rules established to keep the lie alive.”
Doc Searls writes in with Watching the Detectives: “As members of The Press his last week at Macworld and CES, Dan [Gillmor] and I belonged to an exclusive club, with its own private rooms, free food, wi-fi Net connections, and other freebies, not to mention special treatment by vendors. We’re insiders. Yet many markets—politics and technology are just two—include a growing number of outsiders with online journals who are just as important to the market’s ecosystem as credentialed journalists.”
KHayes in comments here: “Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler writes excellent media criticism and has been doing it daily for four years. He’s been doing for multiple reporters what the blogosphere is suggesting for individuals. Bob earns his living at standup comedy. Horrors! He’s not a ‘pro’…”
William of Wilgoren Watch replies with Tsunami: “I hate the term ‘Media Whore’ because of its misogynistic implications, although I’m sure I’ve used it once or twice online, as it is pretty much part of the popular jargon in the blogosphere. I have nothing personal against Ms. Wilgoren and I have attempted to be nothing but respectful to her on this blog – I just want to make sure she and her editors know we are paying attention to how they portray our party and Gov. Dean.”
Monday morning, Jan. 12.
The Patricia Wilson Watch is founded. (Reuters reporter)
Jan. 12: Tom Mangan rethinks in Reporters For Adoption: “Bloggers adopting journalists could be the best thing that happens to journalism, because it creates a class of people who elevate the perceived importance of journalism. In the same way that sports coverage is as important as the games themselves, blog coverage of the news could actually reignite the attention of a public that, by and large, tunes out the press.”
Rogers Cadenhead: “As a former newspaper journalist, I’m amazed by some of the hysteria that journalists are exhibiting about a plan for webloggers to follow and critique specific political journalists during the 2004 presidential campaign.”
Halley Suitt of Halley’s Comment emails PressThink with this advice: “Has anyone offered to organize this? I will be happy to. I need you guys to give me a list of which journalists you think we should be adopting and then I’ll dole them out and keep track of it, make it easy to access. I’m new to politics and relatively unbiased (though an obvious Dean supporter). I think it’s a great idea.”
Nick Douglas of Broken Hammock in comments here: “Could the journalist-watching be done in a purposely mixed manner, rather than a negative bent only? I know I’d enjoy following a journalist and bragging about how accurate he’s been. Adopt-a-journalist can run both ways, rewarding the good as well as punishing the bad.”
Ex Lion Tamer refines in an updated post: “Think of bloggers as the ‘garage band’ model of journalism, if you will. the hectoring and lecturing tone of the paid and/or degreed professional journalists telling us we ought to pipe down and stop swearing and all that - man, does that get my goat, but it’s also ahistorical. All movements in media since Gutenberg have been tidal, not linear.”
Mike Adamick emails PressThink with his resource site for tracking political journalists: Poliwonks.
The Wilgoren Watch makes Howard Kurtz’s media column in the Washington Post: “She laughs about Wilgoren Watch (whose author remains anonymous), saying she and her fiance were among the few who signed up for updates. The fledgling site had 2,715 visitors as of last week. ‘I don’t think this is a big movement,’ Wilgoren says. ‘I get e-mail every day from Dean supporters who think I’m insane, and I get some very thoughtful reactions. This is a campaign filled with people on the Net voraciously communicating with each other.’”
Fact-esque, a watch weblog for AP reporter Calvin Woodward, is born. (DOB Jan. 11.)
Here is another, a second Woodward watch.
Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly “adopted.”
For part two of this discussion, See PressThink: Why I Love the Adopt-a-Reporter Scheme. Why I Dread It
. (Jan. 14)
Listen to a segment about adopt-a-journalist on NPR’s “On the Media,” via WNYC, Jan. 24-25. With host Brooke Gladstone, and guests Jody Wilgoren of the New York Times, Jay Rosen, and the author of the Wilgoren Watch.
Posted by Jay Rosen at January 10, 2004 6:10 PM
(Note: I also posted this on my own blog: http://weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor/archives/001655.shtml)
I like the idea that people are watching what I say and correcting me if I get things wrong -- or challenging my conclusions, based on the same facts (or facts I hadn't know about when I wrote the piece). This is a piece of tomorrow's journalism, and we in the business should welcome the feedback and assistance that, if we do it right, becomes part of a larger conversation.
But if the idea is to create some kind of organized collection of Truth Squads, I'm less comfortable. Here are just three of the many, many questions/issues that come immediately to mind:
1) Who's doing the watching? A self-appointed "watcher" is an antagonist in most cases, convinced before he/she starts posting criticisms that the journalist in question is getting thingsf wrong, whether due to incompetence or animosity. Journalists confronted with this kind of attitude don't respond well, and probably won't respond at all.
Paul Krugman has a cadre of online critics who make my own look benign. Some of what they say is outrageously incorrect. Some of what they say is debaters' tricks: using straw men to shoot down things he didn't say, or saying something that may be true but is off point, etc.
2) Will journalists who do participate in the online discussion of their work -- and many will be forbidden to do so by their organizations, probably for legal reasons -- hit the law of diminishing returns?
I recall the quasi-religious debates over the OS/2 operating system back in the early and middle 1990s. I was a fan of OS/2 but not sufficiently infused with the religion. Once and a while I'd post a note in a Usenet discussion where something I'd written was either being misinterpreted or had been seriously twisted. I'd then get hammered by one of the more fervent OS/2 acolytes who'd deconstruct every sentence and ask further questions, few of which were actually relevant (in my view) to the issue. I quickly learned that I had time for correcting outright mistruths and not much else. (I also had defenders in the newsgroup, which helped.)
3) Why should anyone trust what critics say any more than what the journalist says? An assertion that a journalist has a fact wrong is not, in itself, true. It's just an assertion.
Do we need Truth Squads watching the Truth Squads. There are, amazingly, sites that deconstruct the anti-Krugman stuff. But you'll forgive a casual reader for ignoring almost all of it.
None of these issues means that Web watchers are a bad idea. But if the idea is to really make journalism better, I'm just not convinced this will work.
The thing is, you're not bringing up issues that haven't existed before and won't continue to exist in the future - Howard Kurtz alone is a media-criticism nightmare, for instance.
Why should anyone trust what critics say any more than what the journalist says? An assertion that a journalist has a fact wrong is not, in itself, true. It's just an assertion.
This is patently false, and in fact indicative of the attitude that has spurned on many of these "watchers". Much of the problem with the Krugman-watchers, for instance, is that they attempt to combat perceived faults of Krugman by using factually inaccurate data - and those facts can be corrected. If a journalist reports a fact wrong, and someone posts a valid correction of it, you're not simply talking about two competing assertions - you're talking about a mistake and a correction.
Who's doing the watching? A self-appointed "watcher" is an antagonist in most cases, convinced before he/she starts posting criticisms that the journalist in question is getting thingsf wrong, whether due to incompetence or animosity. Journalists confronted with this kind of attitude don't respond well, and probably won't respond at all.
For many of the "watchers", the goal is not to talk to the journalist, but instead to readers of their work, to not let falsehoods, whether real or perceived, stand. That's part of the point of public debate, is it not?
To Tom Managan:
First bloggers were happy being amateur pundits, now they want to be amateur spinmeisters. And amateur lobbyists, campaign managers, fundraisers ... everything but amateur holders of public office.
If you don't respect the opinions, you don't have to read them - better yet, you can make the effort to correct them, in whatever forum you have available. Many pundits are amateurs in their own right, albeit with flashier trappings - experts perhaps in one or two areas, but seeking to opine in every area of public life, no matter their relative expertise. Being paid for it doesn't necessarily make your opinion better or any more valid.
Thanks to Dan Gillmor for summing up my serious concerns (vs. the merely glib ones stated above) about these watchdogs.
Anybody who's seen my six years of online output will understand I'm not one of the media types dismissing blogging out of hand (the ones who are will get their asses handed to them soon enough). I do, however, make it a point to deflate whatever hype I come across, and try to encourage people to get over their breathless enthusiasm for each new Internet wonder.
As a news editor I don't mind people poring over the work I do and picking it to pieces. Everybody needs a hobby, and if yours makes me smarter, I'm all for it. What I don't like is the likelihood of volunteer pickers -- who have no financial stake in my profession and can quit at any time -- gumming up the works and making it harder for my colleagues to do their jobs.
See, all these watchers will attract the attention of the watchee, and the watchee will dedicate on-the-job time to addressing their concerns, and that will be time taken away from writing and reporting the news. It's not by default bad, provided the watcher understands the constraints and pressures most reporters work under. Criticism is helpful provided it is constructive.
But the bloggers who assume this "we're smarter than the media" attitude are alienating the people they most hope to influence -- the media people they wish were smarter. (Then again, bloggers can't want us to be *too much* smarter, because then they'd have nothing to blog about).
If your heart's set on adopting a reporter, please try to productive about it. That means pointing to links and stories and other means of widening the understanding of everybody who reads your blog -- the most avid of whom will be the reporter in question, most likely.
But I beg you: don't be partisan, nit-picking pains in the ass like the Krugman haters who've given him every reason to write off the lot of 'em.
I like the idea of tracking writer's work because there is opportunity to understand and get context for their work over time, across subjects and even media outlets, to understand the implicit bias we all have, as well as to see how writers use the same sources, words, metaphors and arguments to discuss what they are reporting. Often these elements remain the same but over time, the story changes and for example, a writer's over-used-metaphor becomes destructive as it grows more and more out of sync with the situation described over various articles. It's also a way to understand reputation (and there is no getting around the fact that journalism publishes with bylines). Blogging and other kinds of participatory journalism allow for many different kinds of analysis of journalism; this kind can be useful, too.
But the other side of this exercise is that while people (bloggers or any others) criticize or point out problems with writer's work, they may also become what they despise, ending up committing the same acts of bias they are trying to point out. There is room in the blogosphere to see this meta-bias as well, and readers will choose what to read as the blogger/critic’s reputation is established.
One point regarding this: the first example above, The Wilgoren Watch, doesn't have an About section, we don't know who he is or what he does, and in the same way he wants to criticize other's work, he's left out information that would allow his audience to know his biases and experience, and take those into account when reading his work.
Creating rancor, yelling loudest (or even stalking as has been suggested above), in the name of fighting bias seems destructive and doesn't achieve the goal very well. It may lead to the tearing down of particular journalists who may be biased, but it might also lead to journalists, and the journalism business, becoming more bland and non-committal than it already is. So my question is, can you constructively analyze and discuss these issues and writers, and make readers aware, without ruining the good that exists in journalism? Can you do it in a way that builds up rather than tears down?
As a journalist, I support the adoption campaign, 100 percent, without hesitation, and I can't see how any truly spirited and honest journalist could have any problem with scrutiny, whether from amateurs or pros, biased bloggers or media critics, or even uncivil critics with axes to grind.
This is the most important thing our profession needs today: the mirror of scrutiny turned back upon us.
I hope that we all get "adopted" because the orphanages that have institutionalized us have turned us into modern-day Oliver Twists, with bosses no less Dickensian than Mr. Bumble and Mr. Sowerberry, cracking the whip upon our backs as we smile for the public pretending that nothing is wrong, that we really do have free speech, that we're "important" people and not mere wage slaves in cubicles... In telling the public we had press freedom, we told our first lie, thus started sliding down that slippery slope that has destroyed democracy as we knew it.
There is nothing more laughable than a fellow or sister journalist who doesn't want the same scrutiny we dish out daily.
I'm also for this - as I posted on my blog - http://www.bigleftoutside.com/archives/000297.php - on New Year's Eve (documenting links available there: somehow I'm unable to imbed links on Jay's blog) - because this kind of scrutiny has already stopped great abuses, and as it snowballs, will stop more abuses. Here's a quote, minus the links, from that entry:
"I can testify that this kind of 'tough love' works. Narco News 'adopted' Sam Dillon, Mexico Bureau Chief of the NY Times - http://www.narconews.com/pressday2000.html , and he left Mexico two years before his term was up. We 'adopted' AP's 18-year Bolivian Bureau Chief Peter McFarren http://www.narconews.com/mcfarrenstory1.html , and he was gone within 18 days..."
It's a lot of work, though, so we need more hands on deck. The idea has already taken root. Now we need the troops. So what if people begin as novices? Didn't we all begin that way? And what is the nonsense about "objectivity" anyway? That's the second Big Lie we journalists have spouted for too long, and the jig is up. Give me a blogger who discloses his and her bias any day over a "journalist" who claims he and she have none.
I'm not saying this should be a one way street: there are bloggers, too, who deserve to be "adopted" and scrutinized in this same manner. There is far too little disclosure in the blogosphere, too. Like, where does Andrew Sullivan get his donations from, anyway? And why won't he disclose, say, contributors of a thousand dollars or more?
Take heart, bloggers, and be of good cheer. This is an idea whose time has come. Very soon, at Narco News we'll be involving the readers in adopting all the major media English-language correspondents in Latin America, to go over every claim they make with a fine tooth comb. And we'll open our own reports up to this kind of public fact-checking and comment.
If there is any journalist out there who is afraid of this wave that is pounding upon our shores, it is time for him and her to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask: What have we become? And how did that happen?
It happened because we only get scrutinized from inside our own clubhouse, and, then, only according to rules established to keep the lie alive. When you've published, as I have, more than a thousand news stories in commercial publications, and you can't admit that the game is rigged, that there is no press freedom, that the censorship comes not from government but from a State called the private sector, well, then you really need to be put up for adoption, because you've started lying to yourself too.
P.S. Jay, it would be really great if we could comment here with html code, blockquotes, and italics, to be able to speak more clearly and document our claims.
Alan Judd cites a situation of harrassment involving his home and family, and then makes a leap that his own editors would not allow him to make in print... He claims:
"The cyberstalking of Jodi Wilgoren and others isn't very different than this."
Stalking is, in most states, a crime. I haven't seen the Wilgoren Watch blog publishing her home address or threatening the reporter. That's a very cheap shot coming from Judd, cynically worded to stay within the limits of libel law while still comparing legitimate use of the First Amendment by citizens as the moral equivalent of illegal acts.
(Memo to those who rail about "civility" in Internet discourse: What is more uncivil than comparing a legitimate critic with a stalker? Judd, though, uses "accepted format" to say what an outsider might say more openly, and so the "civility lobby" will never point the finger at someone like him, because he's been trained in "the code." Another reason why I think the "civility" debate in the blogosphere is just a bogus mask for the upper class side of the class war, but, ah, I digress...)
Folks, that's how my colleagues see most of you: Whether your complaint is legitimate doesn't matter. If you infringe upon the club, if you raise your own "press pass" guaranteed to all citizens (not merely to a commercially endowed press caste) by the First Amendment, you are seen as stalkers by those who imagine themselves as members of an elitist Press Freedom caste.
There's another reason why Commercial Media reporters fear this phenomenon: their hands are largely tied by their own employers in terms of being able to defend themselves. We've already seen cases where journalist blogs have been clipped or censored by their employers, even in cases where the blog was posted somewhere else online. Reporters for daily newspapers in the United States, in many ways, have less freedom of speech as citizens than most members of the public, because their employers are control freaks. The censorship, I repeat, comes from the private sector, not from the State.
This leaves them unarmed for the battle to come. They're frightened. In many ways, citizen blogging and scrutiny of specific journos does conjure boogeyman "stalker" images to Commercial Journalists, but the harm is caused by the company that employs him and her. Unable to come on line and defend themselves fully, to fight back in a fair fight like most of us can have on the Internet, they're going to be caught in a bind.
Does that mean it's unfair to whack 'em? Absolutely not! In fact, if any of these neutered and spayed wage slaves can look ahead like chess players instead of frightened eunuchs in corporate straightjackets, they can see that the seeds of their liberation are precisely in the very phenomenon they fear. At some point, the critical mass of critique will grow so pointed that their bosses will have to let them come out to defend and debate their behavior openly, or the "company brand" will be harmed more by the current arrogant non-response of silence and snobbery than it would be by setting reporters free to speak their truths both inside and outside the newsroom.
If you've every complained to a reporter, in person, about a boneheaded error, he'll often tell you, "yeah, I know, friggin story editor chopped up my piece beyond recognition." Thus, the gag order when it comes to defending their work in public forum. The moment that gag order lifts, it will create a much healthier dynamic in which editors will cease putting words on reporters' bylines. The editors will then, too, have to come out from behind the curtain.
It's going to be rough. A lot of my colleagues wince when I say it, but I say it, often, anyway: We are entering Journalism's Civil War. And it is absolutely necessary to free the slaves.
Interesting comments on watching.
I'll sure bear them in mind as I continue to watch Patricia Wilson of Reuters.
I'm not sure my anonymity is different from that of Patricia Wilson or Nedra Pickler to the reader of a smaller market paper that gets everything but its local news from AP and/or Reuters.
Granted, I embarked on this effort hastily without any particular plan, but with some very clear observation. First, amazing things were coming out of AP and Reuters (Pickler and Wilson) that just didn't fit any standard definition of news. Mangled, twisted paragraphs that could have been written by the RNC. Secondly, pack journalism was developing and repeating stories that were at genuine odds with my personal observations. Dean anger and pessimism? I've met the man and watched him.
Not only that, but the wire service manglers weren't generating the outrage of what might be said on the DrudgeReport, Instapundit, or the O'Reilley show, even though these might be reaching far more people on a daily basis.
I've been an active follower of print jounalism and particularly of political journalism, fascinated by the process and style of TIME in the late 50's and early 60's, heavily influenced by IF Stone, Dr. Hunter S Thompson, the NY Times, Bernstein and Woodward in the late 60's and early 70's, a reader of the daily LA Times, New York Times, and Orange County Register now, contributor to my local NPR station (KCRW the best radio station in the country) I've written for the print media, been quoted and misquoted, and continue to be active in local politics. My life has been much improved since I stopped watching TV news several years ago.
Politically, I haven't been registered as a Democrat since the 70's, moving from independent to Libertarian, Republican, Reform, Republican.
I've contributed heavily to Howard Dean, who I see as a very pragmatic, honest leader who is poltically somewhere around Richard Nixon, although ethically way ahead.
I know about headline writers, editors, and how local editors trim the wire service news to fill the space available or reflect their own local market.
By education, experience, and intelligence, I think I'm perfectly qualified to critique a specific journalist.
I'll try to use equal part of civility and sarcasm, and frame the reporters in the same way that they frame their subjects.