Patterico's Pontifications


Reporter Fired for Posting Anonymous Comments on the Internet

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 6:09 am

Allah sends the link to this story about a reporter fired for posting anonymous comments on the Internet:

A daily newspaper fired its courthouse reporter after he posted anonymous opinions on the public forum portion of the publication’s Web site, including comments critical of his own employer, the reporter said.

[Name redacted] said he was fired last month from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, where he had worked for more than six years. He declined to discuss the content of his postings.

Editor Ray Shaw confirmed that [name redacted] no longer worked at the newspaper but declined to comment further on a personnel matter.

Wow. Maybe Hiltzik did get off easy.

UPDATE 5/23/14: I have redacted the name of the person who was fired.

15 Responses to “Reporter Fired for Posting Anonymous Comments on the Internet”

  1. Hiltzik might yet not survive “Hiltzik’s Folly”.
    Where are they going to put him when/if he returns from his suspension? Will he replace Rutten? Hiltzik can do good work–but supposedly credibility means something in the newspaper business (or at least should mean something in the newspaper business) and like virginity, once it’s lost, it’s gone forever. Hiltzik spent his.

    Mike Myers (3a4363)

  2. When co-workers at the Times were described as saying he was lucky… you have to think about the ol’ paycheck and bennies. He is lucky.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  3. It’s jaw-droppingly amazing that reporters can think they can get away with such “anonymous” postings that really aren’t.

    However, I’m not sure this nugget of wisdom from the Poynter Institute is very helpful:

    “If you express opinions that are critical of a public agency that you cover, and the public knows that you have expressed those opinions — not reported facts, but opinions — the members of the public have reason to doubt your ability to fairly cover that agency,” she said.”

    Is the underlying problem one of a reporter publicly expressing an opinion, expressing an opinion, or merely having an opinion at all?

    If the reporter had biases and kept them concealed, would the public have been better served? Or would it be better for the public to know the reporter’s biases?

    Bradley J. Fikes (97a885)

  4. Note that this reporter bashed his employer (the paper). Maybe that’s the real crime here.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  5. Kevin has it right, it’s the “critical of his employer” that was the key, not anonymously posting.

    Christopher Taylor (9e1f4d)

  6. I second Christopher’s comment.

    Paul (c169e9)

  7. Lancaster is a long way from LA.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  8. Quinn … said … he began posting to “set the record straight” about topics he covered.

    It looks like he was doing sock puppetry.

    LTEC (00d1b6)

  9. I’m from Lancaster, and I read that paper…

    And if any facts are being misstated, it’s probably with a right wing slant.

    The Reverend AG (c37ea2)

  10. How many news directors at the 77 U.S. stations airing fake VNR’s (video news releases) as legitimate stories got canned?

    “In each case, these 77 television stations actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting. In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients’ messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety.”

    The Lancaster scribe was wrong, but managers often get by with far worse.

    steve (b0f950)

  11. Tempest in a teapot. They guy stupidly bad mouthed his employer and got caught. Did he get fired for “sock puppetry”? Naw, he got fired ‘cuz he was stupid. I wouldn’t be surprised if the putz used his office computer as well….

    paul from fl (001f65)

  12. The problem lies that he expressed his opinion in public or he had his own individual thinking.It would have been better if the reporter had not disclosed his opinion and remained shut.

    sam (61d04a)

  13. Patrick:

    Looks like the LAT has another sock puppet on the staff. In 2005, Roy Rivenburg posted many times under pseudonyms when he was criticized by gay columnist Michelangelo Signorile for his article on gay marriage. A simple Google search of “Rivenburg” and “sock puppetry” yields several examples. He also posted book reviews of ‘Test of Courage’ under names other than his own.

    Someone else has pointed this out here, but you’ve deleted Rivenburg’s name and banned the poster. As a prosecutor and licensed member of the bar I’d think you’re capable of being a bit more dispassionate when it comes to violations, whether of the law or of a newspaper’s policy. Or do you only favor enforcement when it serves your purposes and biases?

    [I banned someone who made an accusation without even purporting to provide evidence. Since then, someone made the same accusation and at least tried to provide evidence. That person’s comment stands and they are not banned. So save your crap about evenhandedness. As I prosecutor I am wary of accusations made without a shred of evidence. In the comment I allowed to stand, all the commenter did was provide a link to Atrios, who speculated that it might be Rivenburg because the comments came from an LAT computer. Flimsy! By that logic, masha and workingjournalist are Hiltzik. And your suggested Google search reveals nothing more. So I’ll leave your post up but will note that your accusation is utterly lacking in evidence. What I find fascinating, and may follow up on, is that you appear to have made your comment from a Kinko’s! You must be really scared of being found out! Now why would that be? — Patterico]

    Don't_Feed_the_Liberals (b6009a)

  14. Sometimes honesty doesn’t pays and that what happened with the reporter but some fault lies on his part too. He should have think twice before posting such anonymous comments.

    dave (39b454)

  15. Patrick:

    Can’t you simply ask Roy Rivenburg if that was him posting? He seems like an honest and straightforward guy, I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer the question, particularly if it’s you who’s asking it: has he ever made posts on web logs using pseudonyms, commenting about his own work as a reporter at the LA Times?

    [Mmmm . . . I avoid such questions in the absence of any real evidence. I’ll let you ask him. Let me know what he says. — Patterico]

    Don't_Feed_The_Liberals (b6009a)

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