Rothstein also noted in a post that “If you’re a reporter, you’re supposed to be objective. We shouldn’t know if he voted for Ron Paul, President Obama or David Hasselhoff. If you’re going to be reporting on any political movement, you are supposed to take an unbiased position.” This is how a smear campaign starts, with an argument that in principle, [ostensibly] sounds correct, but really is, at its core, ill-informed, ignorant, and sensational. —Foster Kamer
I’ve been reading about the Dave Weigel thing all morning, only because I couldn’t get away from work long enough to focus on it yesterday. Wow. Village Voice blogger Foster Kamer sums it up nicely and has all the pertinent links. It’s a tawdry tale of true believers being angry that someone who knows a lot about them and can see them so clearly, hacks who fantasize about being take-down artists suddenly discovering the value of “journalistic principles,” and, in the end, a really great demonstration of something Jay Rosen has been blogging about heavily lately: the ideology of news reporting gives priority to ritualistic theatre above accuracy, transparency, and fairness.
Update June 27: Nate Silver weighs in on the bizarrely unrealistic central issue here:
Is the expectation really that journalists aren’t allowed to develop opinions about the subjects they cover, even if those opinions are expressed only in private? We have a name for people who are so indifferent about society: we call them sociopaths. Or is the expectation that journalists are allowed to have opinions, provided that they keep them secret?
Also of note, the very sensible observation that the ‘blog ethos’ of frankly including point of view “is just magazine-journalism ethos with the addition of cat pictures”. This approach is immeasurably richer than the fake-objectivity approach of newspapers because, as Jim Henley continues, “The writer will make sure to include a substantial account of challenges to her perspective, if only to knock it down later.”
Dave Weigel did no more or no less than any other Washington Post reporter or any reporter on any given days. He said some things in private no worse than anyone else. The only thing different is that his emails became public– against his will– something that could happen to anyone.
Weigel was young. He was a blogger. He had a non-traditional background. No matter that he is a great reporter. That is the kind of guy published at the Post.
Who keeps their job at the Post and other places?
Those who espoused the WMD lies of the Bush administration.
Those who have plagiarized.
And those who have engaged in unethical or sloppy journalism.
I don’t think he did anything wrong. I think the whole thing makes the Post look bad—whether it was for undermining their own digital strategy or failing to demonstrate an understanding of the issues coming together in this little teacup tempest. The Post seems to have chosen panic and spin over values.
Sounds like Weigel won’t have any trouble landing on his feet. I wish him well.