Monday, May 28, 2007

Joe Hallett and Connie Schultz Not Really in Lockstep About Blogs

In Sunday's Dispatch, columnist Joe Hallett wrote about Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz and her upcoming book. He had participated in an ethics workshop with Schultz and used that as a hook to discuss the book and Schultz's discusison of political journalism in it. In the course of talking about Schultz and Sherrod, Hallett took a couple grafs to talk junk about blogs:

    On the matter of political blogs, Schultz and I were in lockstep. Their importance is overblown and their readership, although growing, still is a fraction of those readers who rely on newspapers to get their politics.

    Little original reporting comes from political blogs. Exceptions in Ohio include rightangleblog.com and its counterpart on the liberal side, buckeyestateblog.com, whose authors at least make an effort to talk with newsmakers. Mostly, though, political blogs are echo chambers for ideologues to comment on and twist what they've read in the morning newspaper or on newspaper blogs such as www.dispatch.com/politics.
This sounded different than what Connie Schultz had said at the Akron Press Club. At the Press Club she reiterated her belief expressed in interviews that bloggers have a positive role to play in the process but that we need to aspire to a higher level of citizen journalism. Specifically she says we should call to confirm information before posting, that we should not traffic rumors and that we shouldn't post anonymously. More detail on all this in my reaction post.

Because of the divergence, I emailed her last night. She confirmed my suspicions that Hallett did not accurately convey her views about blogs. She understood the ethics seminar to be off-the-record, but did say that her views expressed at Kent were essentially the same as those expressed at the Press Club. She does not dismiss blogs out of hand, she reads blogs, but she has some misgivings about how people blog.

Sadly, the episode is another example of her criticism of blogs. Hallett's anti-blog mini-rant doesn't quote Schultz. What he does in voice his views and assert that she agrees with him. That should have thrown up a warning flag. Nonetheless, both RAB and DailyKos accepted Hallett's piece as an accurate summary Connie Schultz's views, without reservation. Each then moved on to criticize her, she being a higher-profile target.

(Bryan at BSB mentions her in passing, but correctly directs his criticism solely at Hallett.)

Sadly, Connie Schultz tells me that no other bloggers contacted her for confirmation or clarification of the information in the Hallett piece. So RAB rehashes the outdated "Sherrod vs. the Blogs" tiff, DKos rants at the wrong person and all for the want of sending an email. She deserves better than that from Joe Hallett and from us.

6 comments:

Jill said...

Thanks for this, Scott.

Eric said...

"Specifically she says we should call to confirm information before posting, that we should not traffic rumors and that we shouldn't post anonymously."

all i will say regarding this is SIGH.

Anonymous said...

-posted by Matt N.

I would have loved to have asked Connie. But somehow, I doubt she would respond to me.

Jill said...

Matt - you never know until you try, and then you get to write, she didnt' respond. What's the big deal?

Pho said...

Eric:

Hope you can flesh that out sometime.

Matt:

Agree with Jill. I also think in this case she would have responded.

Village Green said...

I emailed Connie after her first column appeared after she returned to the PD. Just to say welcome back and how happy I was to read her columns again. She emailed me back within a day, to say thanks. I wasn't really expecting a response but got a very pleasant one.