Patterico's Pontifications

10/17/2007

A Suggested Disclosure for That Constantly Shifting L.A. Times Blog Post

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:51 am



The current disclosure at the bottom of the Amazing Changing L.A. Times Blog Post is wholly inadequate. It currently reads as follows:

(This item was originally posted Thursday evening, Oct. 11. It was removed by an editor Friday but was reposted Saturday in a shortened form.)

Here’s an alternate note that would be more accurate:

This item was originally posted Thursday evening, Oct. 11. Then someone removed a paragraph about Rielle Hunter’s disappearing website. We’re not saying who did that. Then someone removed three more paragraphs, about a Huffington Post entry about Hunter. We’re not saying who did that either. Then an editor killed the post entirely, without mentioning that it had ever been there. It remained down for a day and a half. The post was finally restored nine minutes after Patterico e-mailed Malcolm. It now had three more paragraphs removed, quoting an unnamed source from the National Enquirer. Given the fact that we killed the post and were only shamed into restoring it by Patterico and Mickey Kaus, we were embarrassed by Andrew Malcolm’s parenthetical remarks about “censoring” Edwards’s denial. So we removed those too, without saying anything. Oh, and then Malcolm added a parenthetical note about how the post didn’t mention Rielle Hunter, but then Patterico proved that it had, before the numerous deletions mentioned above. So we deleted that parenthetical remark as well — again without explanation.

We promise that we’ll get our act together one of these days.

No need to thank me, L.A. Times editors. I’m here to help.

(Previous posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

UPDATE: Actually, I just checked the post again, and they have a fuller disclosure:

(UPDATE: Since some have asked for more details on this post, here they are. Better late than never: Thursday evening John Edwards spoke to a group of reporters, denying an alleged affair, initially reported in the National Enquirer, which had become the subject of intense speculation on the web. The Associated Press moved a story on the denial, and our blogger posted an item on the Edwards denial, including some details of the Enquirer story. It also mentioned a Huffington Post item that identified a woman who worked for Edwards and a feature on that woman from Newsweek last winter.

Shortly after, editors trimmed the post to delete the Huffington and Newsweek material, believing it also had not been verified. About 10 hours later a Times editor, concerned about an item now entirely focusing on the Enquirer allegations, removed the entire post and comments, some of which expressed similar concerns.

After web editors discovered the deletion, they launched an internal discussion about the importance of not deleting items from the site without explanation. That resulted in the item being reposted Saturday evening, minus three more paragraphs of Enquirer allegations but retaining the link to the Enquirer story. A brief explanation for the one-day deletion was also posted. Since the reposted item no longer carried the blogger’s name, he felt it inappropriate to be responding online to past reader comments, so he removed his responses.

Other than that, things went very smoothly with this item.)

That’s actually not bad, guys. What’s more, it may have been up already when I posted this; I last checked the entry yesterday and assumed it was the same this morning. (UPDATE: Actually, on reflection, I think I did check it this morning. In any event, whenever this went up, they’re right. It’s late, but better late than never.)

UPDATE x2: Nope, sure enough, their update was up last night. I guess I didn’t check it this morning after all.

Man. It sure is annoying to have to update my post with embarrassing corrections.

But it’s more honest. And — take note, L.A. Times editors! — that’s the way of the blogosphere.

7 Responses to “A Suggested Disclosure for That Constantly Shifting L.A. Times Blog Post”

  1. I love this bit: “After web editors discovered the deletion . . .”

    They “discovered” it! They’re like Columbus!

    I guess it would hurt their pride too much to acknowledge that their “discovery” was due to my hounding them about it, as reinforced (and given much wider and relevant circulation) by Mickey Kaus and Kevin Roderick.

    Patterico (08a40a)

  2. “Other than that, things went very smoothly with this item…”

    I think that catchphrase just entered Patterico’s Pontifications lore.

    (I’m glad they can laugh at themselves a little there.)

    See Dubya (d4aa96)

  3. I now see Christoph noted the update last night. I went to bed at 9, just after the kids, and barely saw the computer last night. I know I looked at the LAT post this morning, but must have looked at a version already up on my screen, without hitting refresh.

    I’ll update tonight to note that their update was made last night.

    Patterico (187a04)

  4. I was wondering about this because I had thought you saw my comment before posting, Patterico, and I wanted to refrain from making a new comment related to this matter on either your or Los Angeles Times’ blog until reading your next (this) post.

    N.B. I did make another comment on the LAT blog post wholly related to the topic of that thread and they allowed it through right away.

    When I read the last blog update on LAT’s post, I thought it was quite a good one. It seemed fair. Yes, they didn’t rake themselves over the coals any more embarrassingly than necessary, but who would expect them to? When I read your last post on this topic prior to this one I thought that’s what you wanted them to do. That seemed to me excessive of you and unnecessary… having now seen their newest update, I’m glad you agree they handled it fairly well in the end. “Better late than never,” as they put it.

    If your main goal was to bring to LAT’s attention both the necessity and proper method of following transparent and ethical blogging practices in this regard, I think you’ve succeeded. And I hope it holds long term. There simply isn’t enough reward to bother (or take the risk) of trying to hide stuff. Not with “screen caps”, “Google cache” (which they could technically disable, but almost no one does this… and that would be almost internet sneaky for a news organization), and an army of commentators. Even if you, I, or Itsme didn’t notice this, their regular readers — whose comments were mucked about with — would.

    They may not have prominent L.A. media critic blogs, but still, why alienate them when just a bit of thought given to disclosure builds credibility for no corresponding cost?

    I’ll make another comment on their thread about it now. I suspect they’ll publish it because it will be complimentary.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  5. My last comment to LAT blog on this matter was:

    Thank you for your update. You responded to my October 14, 1:58 AM comment, and others’ comments, plus blog posts around the net written about this issue.

    Your response in the end was in my opinion a fair one. I believe more disclosure is better than less because otherwise you end up alienating your readers. On the other hand, transparency engenders respect.

    Blogging has some special etiquette that has grown up over the years and this transparency is a big part of it. Granted, the only blogs to follow this are only those committed to ethics and reasonable debate… but I’d like to think the largest daily newspaper in the second largest U.S. city runs such a blog!

    You handled this well — in the end. Try to do it quicker next time.

    I’ll refrain from posting a wink smiley face here, because they are silly.

    Again, we’ll see if they choose to publish it. Overall they should, considering…

    … their update implies they are concerned about readers’ thoughts regarding how they run their blog. Also, their update implies they are responsive to their readers’ comments on transparency issues.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  6. They published it. That closes the issue for me. Well done, Patterico.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  7. The LA Times blogs like Britney Spears lives her life.

    Looking Glass (ce3111)


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