Hiltzik, Part III. Enter The Grown-Ups.

Boy, you go to work, and all heck breaks loose.

The L.A. Times response to Patterico’s presentation of apparent facts about Michael Hiltzik’s sock puppetry by suspending his blog:

The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on latimes.com. Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.

I’m human enough to want to crow, but mature enough not to, to be a bit concerned that the damage to Hiltzik’s career will be more serious than would be justified by this, and to be very concerned that the Times will use this as an excuse to step away from the baby steps toward interactivity that it has taken in the last year or so.

As to Hiltzik, I’m not sure what to say, so I’ll say little. He’s at best been ungracious, we disagree about policy pretty significantly, and most important, he’s tone-deaf. From the reviews of his books, he’s a good writer and a smart guy, and I genuinely hope that he’s smart enough to absorb the lesson and come out the other side a better person and a better journalist.

But as to the Times, I want to resurrect something I used in writing about Hiltzik before – in one of my earlier posts criticizing him.

From: Kevin Anderson-Washington XXXXXXXXX@bbc.co.uk
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 16:30:18 -0000
To: XXXXXXXXX@eon.law.harvard.edu
Subject: RE: Best of Both Worlds Continued

OK,

I’ve been meaning to contribute to this discussion because I come from the mainstream media world – the other world so to speak. And the editor of the programme I work on at the BBC World Service, Mark Sandell, has been following this discussion.

Our programme has asked several of you to join us to talk about what is going in your part of the world, and we use Global Voices as a way to broaden out our agenda. What stories are you talking about that we should be aware of?

I still am considering my thoughts about the ways in which blogs and traditional media complement each other. I definitely am not of the view of an adversarial relationship between bloggers and traditional media although being from the US, I have definitely seen this in action.

But, I just wanted to flag up a little note from our editor Mark Sandell, about our thinking in covering stories. We had a discussion yesterday about the mining tragedy in the US, although we expanded this to deal with mine safety elsewhere, including China and South Africa. We had a lot of e-mail comments about why we weren’t covering the landslides in Java or returning to cover the plight of quake victims in South Asia.

Mark posted his thoughts here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/world_have_your_say/4584506.stm

Right now, it’s at the top of the page, but it will shift to the middle after our day-end update. Look for the Note from the Editor. Let me know what you think. We’re trying to be more open about why we do what we do.

best,
k

Kevin Anderson
BBC World Service and Five Live

Transparency, respect, an interest in a mutually beneficial dialog with one’s audience. That’s the future of mass media.

Arrogance, secrecy, and a death-grip on the megaphone is the past.

The Times will eventually embrace the former; I genuinely hope that future is now. The form of dialog without the substance – a willingness to talk and listen – is, as this episode has shown, not going to get them there.

We, in the blogging community, can encourage them by not crowing, not attacking the Times or Hiltzik, and instead trying to encourage them down the path toward their – and our – future.

10 thoughts on “Hiltzik, Part III. Enter The Grown-Ups.”

  1. As Patterico pointed out in his response to the Times’ blog suspension,

    I hope that Times editors realize that their mistake was not the decision to allow a staff writer to operate a blog — it was the choice of Michael Hiltzik as that blogger.

    My guess is the Times, when they decided to experiment, looked around and said “who here looks like a blogger?” Hiltzik: brash, opinionated, edgy, not afraid to get in someone’s face. Not afraid of computers. Perfect!

    Except really, Hiltzik wasn’t used to being questioned at this point in his career. Or something. I’m catching only the tail-end of this story. But the facts fit.

    If the Times really wanted to test the waters with blogging, and get someone who has done it, who already has a readership, who is more-or-less ideologically sympatico but not syncophantic, and seems tempramentally suited to really suffering the slings and arrows, they’d pay Kaus whatever it took.

  2. This has nothing to do with mainstream media versus bloggers. It’s not about a news organisation or a news organisation’s credibility. I assume that getting into blogging with “somebody” like this as your front man was an honest mistake, and it would seem unreasonable as well as ungenerous to assume otherwise.

    This has nothing to do with policy. It is not about liberal versus conservative. I would not care if all the opinions of the Hiltzik, Mikekoshi, Nofanofcablecos identities were published at RedState and were considered solidly conservative there.

    This has to do with a fake, a sham pretending to be a somebody or multiple somebodies. It’s like “Lucy Ramirez” Bill Burkett’s “source” regarding the Killian documents – with a body, walking around, but still fundamentally fraudulent.

    I disagree that Hiltzik, Mikekoshi, Nofanofcablecos should have a future (that anyone should pay attention to). It doesn’t / they don’t even have a proper past.

  3. Whats most suprising to me is how such a shallow insecure pussy managed to become a “pulitzer prize winning” reporter in the first place.

    One more example of the extreme thin skin of most of the print media. “reporters” are indeed bullies who love to dish it out, but don’t you dare challenge them. We’ve seen this time and time again. In this case, the person in question was so insecure that he created his own virtual support system, a sign of mental illness in my view.

  4. There probably should be a journalistic-ethics rule (if there isn’t already) that a reporter who becomes part of a story has screwed up big-time.

    Any working reporters out there reading this want to clue me in?

    (And Gabriel, I can’t agree with your wholesale condemnation of reporters. Too many go into the profession thinking that it’s a good place from which to save the world, I think. But having said that, most of the ones I’ve met — and I wrote freelance business articles for a while — are perfectly nice people.)

  5. Point taken Mark, the trouble with generalization is just that.

    I still see an issue though with a elitism that emanates from modern journalists. Its palpable in many pieces I read, and as just your average member of the unwashed masses, I can’t help but feel that if the tables were turned and a lens was brought to bear on many in the journalistic profession, they wouldn’t hold up to the scrutiny that they put forth on others, nor would the respond well to the snark they attempt to pass off as educated wit.

    Sadly the media will not learn from this, just as they didn’t from Rather, Mapes, etc.

    Declining readership and a professional cocooning of opinion will eventually take their toll, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.

  6. Three cheers for comrade Patterico.

    I know that this is supposed to be about truth and journalistic integrity and all that heavy stuff, not about shooting down MSM Zeppelins for the fun of it. Watching one of those gas-bloated babies plow into the dirt and explode should give us sober pause, not entertainment. Oh, the humanity. Ha ha ha.

  7. I’ve got to say (using a pseudonym that I’ve never used before, at least in English), that I’m amazed at how forgiving the community has been – at least the bloggers, if not the commenters. This guy screwed up big time, and rather than turning on him like sharks in a feeding frenzy, everyone’s willing to give him the benefit of the doubt or show him how to stop digging a hole, as long as he takes a little personal responsibility.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be so impressed by this, but I think it’s great, and it’s a great answer to all of the vitriol that’s been spewed in your general direction by those few bad actors who make MSM look bad.

  8. As a working reporter, I agree that reporters should not become part of the story. That sometimes happens for reasons beyond the reporter’s control. But not with Hiltzik. He brought this all on himself.

    The worst consequence for someone like Hiltzik, a Pulitzer winner, is the loss of one’s reputation. And that’s what’s happened here.

    My blog is at:
    http://southwestleftcoast.blog spot.com

    Take out the space between blog and spot, because a certain URL cannot be posted here.

  9. Please! No mention of “Lucy” lest you draw the dread p.lukasiak into WoC. Just drop your keyboard and slowly back yourself out of the room.

  10. I think one of the reasons people are being kinder to this fellow is that he was only trying to buttress his own image/POV, which for a bloviator is less reprehensible than (say) denying/stonewalling the evidence regarding typefaces no Air Force typewriter could have created decades ago.

    He just stepped on his own d*ck, as they say.

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