June 25, 2010


Weigel and the Post (Ben Smith, 6/25/10, Politico)

The current flap over Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel has its roots in a fact that suprised me when I learned of it earlier this year: The Post appears to have hired Weigel, a liberal blogger, under the false impression that he's a conservative. The new controversy over the revelation that he's liberal is primarily the Post's fault, not his, except to the degree that he allowed the paper's brass to put him in an unsustainable position. [...]

There's a broader debate in journalism right now over whether reporters should strive for neutrality at all, or whether they should bring their own views and experiences into their writing. The Post's Klein, Weigel, and Greg Sargent (along with the fired Dan Froomkin) are the latter model, along with those at newer outlets from TPM to the Breitbart empire. Most of the rest of the Post's political reporters, and most of us at POLITICO, are the former. My personal view is that ideological and neutral journalism can flourish side by side, each going places the other is unwelcome, and each correcting for the other's weaknesses. (And neutral reporters don't have to be allergic to ideology: I'm on Journolist, Klein's off-record listserv; I also get in on private conservative conversations when they'll have me.)

But there's no sign the Post really thought this through. Even as old-timers rankled at the new hires, the paper -- scrambling for relevance on the Internet -- seems not to have considered what the buzzy personnel moves would mean for the paper's longstanding principles of detachment and neutrality in reporting.

One thing nobody argues is that publications should misrepresent and misidentify their own reporters. The Post set Weigel up for a fall, and themselves for embarrassment, and that's what they got today.

...but we actually don't think there's room in any form of journalistic forum for employees who wish harm to or death upon their political rivals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2010 2:44 PM
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