Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not as Wide Open as We Were Led to Believe

In a move that vindicates all those who believe that MSM outlets and independent bloggers cannot coexiste, the PD today fired Jeff Coryell from it's Wide Open group blog. Nothing on WO yet, but Jeff has posted his take on the move. Here's the guts of it:

    Today [PD online editor Jean] Dubail called me and asked if I would agree to never write about LaTourette on "Wide Open," as a condition of my continued participation. He said that the arrangement was sought by Susan Goldberg, Editor of the Plain Dealer. When I declined to agree that I would never write about LaTourette on "Wide Open," I was terminated by DuBail.

    As a political blogger, I am a partisan. My political orientation as a progressive Democrat is an integral part of what I do and is completely transparent to my readers. This is a crucial component of being a political blogger/activist, and sets us apart from journalists in the classic sense. It was understood among the four participants in "Wide Open" that we are political partisans and that we would engage in political debate from our respective political points of view.

More thoughts in a bit.

UPDATES, Including some of those thoughts.

Plunderbund is tracking blog reaction. So far, lots from the left and none from the right.

BSB has a fine idea - sending folks off to dKos and MyDD to "Recommend" Jeff's diary on the subject. I dusted off my ancient dKos account and did so.

In the dKos thread, someone noted that the party line at the PD is that it violates their rules for reporters to contribute to politicians.

A little background info apropos of BMD's comment to this post. Jeff has been telling me (and some other blogger friends as well, I'm sure) about all this as it plays out. Apparently Jeff got on LaTourette's bad side by blogging about the Honorable Gentleman's cozy relationship with Forest City Enterprises and their coincidental good fortune landing a development deal in DC handed out by a Congressional Committee chaired by a certain Congressman from Northeast Ohio. LaTee has been bending ears at the PD since Jeff was announced as one of the Wide Open bloggers. You can read the rest in his post. Point is, this is the same sequence of events he told me before (minus the actually getting fired part of course.)

One takeaway from all this: The PD ought to be telling us what strictures it is placing on the bloggers it has now employed. Are any of the others restricted from blogging about people based on political contributions? Or are they now not permitted to make political contributions? Hmmm. Keeping Blumer's jack out of Ohio GOP coffers may make all this worthwhile.

Second takeaway: Steve LaTourette is a pussy.

Third takeaway: The PD may try to hire another liberal blogger, but we can now be pretty confident it won't be me.

Final thought: I've never thought much about Bill Sloat's criticisms of Connie Schultz's position at the paper. It always seemed to me that once someone steps out of the reporter role and writes editorials -- laden with opinion as they are -- they have dropped out of the Cult of Objectivity. Now the PD has gone the other way. If Jeff got fired for making a political contribution, what of Connie's dual role as columnist and de facto adviser to the Senator she married?


TBMD said...

Hmmm. I had no idea that Latourette had that kind of pull with the PD edtorial board.

Unless Jeff's made some borderline libelous comments, I'm not sure why the PD is comming down on this. It's not like he was one of the obsenity spewing drones of the blogoshpere.

Assuming, of course, that the announced reason is the real reason.

Guess that we'll have to wait and see. It would be good to have an official statment from the PD on this, but doubt that we'll get one.

Village Green said...

Utterly disgusting. I will never buy a Plain Dealer again -- not that I've purchased that many in the past -- but I sure will avoid their blog page until this issue is opened up and explained to everybody's satisfaction.

Ben said...

I will criticize if there is really nothing else to the story. I want to see all the facts before I go out and rip the PD.

John Ettorre said...

What a concept, Ben: Remaining interested in finding out the full story before reacting in some knee-jerk fashion to a lone account. Imagine if this position were to spread to others.

Eric Mansfield said...

Good post .. I too would like to get a comment from the PD on-line editor .. but directed censorship from a paper the size of the PD wouldn't seem to fit the norm of the paper.

Glad you're back Pho ..