Patterico's Pontifications

4/28/2006

Tell L.A. Times Editors Whether You Think They Handled the Hiltzik Matter Properly

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Dog Trainer,General,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 11:03 pm

I mentioned this in my Hiltzik roundup below, but I think it’s worth highlighting.

At the “Opinion L.A.” blog at the L.A. Times, Matt Welch has done a post about the Hiltzik affair. He has provided background links that shed light on the matter, including a link to my original post on Hiltzik’s sock-puppet pseudonyms.

And the post allows comments.

You should respect that. And you should also take advantage of the opportunity.

No matter what your opinion may be about the Hiltzik affair — including what he did, and how the paper handled it — you can now express that opinion on an L.A. Times blog. I think you should. Let the editors know what you think. Go here and leave a comment.

P.S. Be civil. And save your comments. I want to see if any comments get blocked. (I doubt it, especially if Matt Welch has the final say as to whether comments are approved or not — but he might not.) If any comments do get blocked, I want to know what they said.

P.P.S. The policy on comments is that they prefer for commenters to use their real names. (I guess that lets out “Masha” and “workingjournalist” from participating!) Also, comments are indeed moderated, meaning that your comment posted after midnight will not go up immediately.

If you leave a comment there, let me know.

P.P.P.S. Most commenters are reporting that their comments are being published at the Times blog, usually instantly. It seems that — with the exception of one fringe leftist who commented both at the Times blog and my blog, leaving profanity all over his comment at my site — most of the discussion is civil, respectful, and substantive. That’s good to see.

DoS Attack

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 6:42 pm

This blog and many other conservative blogs have been inaccessible for much of today due to a denial of service attack on my host, Hosting Matters.

My apologies for any inconvenience.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has details on the attack here.

Hiltzik Column Discontinued; He Won’t Be Fired

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 4:58 pm

Los Angeles Times editors announced this afternoon that they are discontinuing Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column, as well as the blog of the same name. Hiltzik will be reassigned after serving a suspension. Here is the editors’ note:

The Times is discontinuing Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column, which ran in the Business section, because the columnist violated the newspaper’s ethics guidelines. This follows the suspension last week of his blog on latimes.com, which also has been discontinued. Hiltzik has acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on latimes.com and multiple comments elsewhere on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.

Hiltzik did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web. But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of The Times’ ethics guidelines: Staff members must not misrepresent themselves and must not conceal their affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world.

Over the past few days, some analysts have used this episode to portray the Web as a new frontier for newspapers, saying that it raises fresh and compelling ethical questions. Times editors don’t see it that way. The Web makes it easier to conceal one’s identity, and the tone of exchanges is often harsh. But the Web doesn’t change the rules for Times journalists.

After serving a suspension, Hiltzik will be reassigned.

UPDATE: Kevin Roderick has the text of a staff memo from Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Doug Frantz, which expands on the Editors’ Note:

By now most of you know that Mike Hiltzik has acknowledged violating the paper’s ethics guidelines. He did so by using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on latimes.com and multiple comments elsewhere on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.

Because of this violation, we are discontinuing Mike’s column in the newspaper, Golden State, and his blog of the same name. In addition, we are suspending Mike without pay for a period of time. At the end of the suspension, he will be reassigned.

Killing a column is a serious step. We don’t take it lightly. Mike did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web.

But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of our ethics guidelines: We do not misrepresent ourselves and we do not conceal our affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world. We expect Times employees to behave with integrity and follow our guidelines in all journalistic forums.

A columnist has a special place within The Times. Editors, colleagues and, most of all, readers must trust the integrity and judgment of a columnist because of the freedom that comes with the job. Mike often used his column to pillory business leaders for duplicity or violating the trust of employees, shareholders or the public and we are no longer comfortable granting him that special place within our newspaper.

Over the past few days, some analysts have used this episode to portray the Web as a new frontier for newspapers. Some have said it raises fresh and compelling ethical questions. We don’t see it that way. The Web makes it easier to conceal one’s identity, and the tone of exchanges is often harsh. But the Web doesn’t change the rules for journalists.

The Web has created new opportunities for newspapers. It is undoubtedly a big part of our future. It is a competitive and chaotic world. The most important attributes we bring to that new world are our reputation, our integrity and our determination to put out a great newspaper that behaves in accordance with the highest ethical standards.

Dean and Doug

UPDATE x2: Obviously, the decision was the editors’ to make, and they have made it. I will have to reflect on this. I may post further thoughts over the weekend. Regardless of whether this was the right move, I take no joy in the result, and I encourage readers to show class and restraint in their comments.

Meanwhile, selected reactions will be posted below the fold as they come in. If you are on the main page, click on “more” for those reactions; otherwise, simply keep reading:

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