Boy, you go to work, and all heck breaks loose.
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
Subject: RE: Best of Both Worlds Continued
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:
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.
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.