Daily Archives: December 21, 2011

A.J. Daulerio has posted his Monday night email exchange with former Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Bill Conlin, who has been accused of molesting children in the 1970s. (Daulerio broke the news yesterday on Deadspin.)

He was at times the Conlin I had come to know in recent years — angry, funny, discursive — but he was also obviously scared. He talked about suicide, and I’m still not sure if he was joking. …

I don’t remember what I told him. I don’t remember how I advised him, or if I agreed to publish his response once the Inquirer’s story ran. I hadn’t seen the story myself, after all. Maybe he was being paranoid? Maybe he’d gotten spooked by a reader email? Maybe the story was still months away from seeing print? I got off the phone with Conlin and began calling around.


Some of my tweets to @romenesko followers today:

* Russ Mitchell heads to Cleveland. “It’s been a great run at CBS, but I miss the pulse of a local newsroom”

* New York Observer considers adding nationally focused website

* Molestation story “pretty straight-forward reporting,” says Philly reporter. “I almost don’t consider it investigative”

* Vermont researchers claim Twitter users are becoming less happy over time

* “L’Affaire Romenesko” makes Huffington Post’s “Biggest Media Stories of 2011”

* Critic: NYT Co. stewardship more positive than negative for Boston Globe

* Los Angeles Times fires blogging pressman Ed Padgett

PolitiFact was blasted yesterday for choosing “Republicans voted to kill Medicare” as the “Lie of the Year.” Dan Froomkin says he wrote to PolitiFact founder Bill Adair and urged him to “take it back quickly and explain the (probably self-inflicted) pressures you were under” when selecting the lie.

“I haven’t heard back,” writes Froomkin.

He’s drafted a letter to PolitiFact readers that he says Adair is free to edit and use. An excerpt:

When it came time to choose the winner, we convinced ourselves that it would be a statement of our independence to pick it over the one the readers chose: The repeated GOP insistence that the economic stimulus created “zero jobs.” (We should have listened to you.)

What we lost sight of, in this process of deciding what would reflect best on us, was that the Democratic claim wasn’t really a lie in the first place. Succumbing to our self-inflicted pressure to win credibility from both sides, we forgot that our mission is not to be perceived as credible, but to actually stand for the truth.


Earlier this week, I posted the results of a best j-school survey along with some of the respondents’ comments. One complained that “too many schools are teaching advocacy journalism” rather than objective reporting. Robert Niles has something to say about that:

Advocacy is not the antonym of objectivity. Objectivity is the goal of accounting for your own biases when observing of an external reality, so that your report accurately reflects that reality. By reporting objectively, the goal is that you be able to produce an observation that others, observing the same reality, can reproduce.

There’s nothing about objectivity that prohibits you from advocating on behalf of your results. In fact, putting your work up for peer review, and being able to defend it, is part of the scientific method that influenced the journalistic concept of objectivity.

Niles says he’s glad some professors are teaching advocacy journalism because “we get into this field to raise some hell and make things right. Let’s never forget that – let’s embrace it.”


“I’m at an undisclosed location,” Stephen Bloom tells me. “I left because I don’t want some of these crazy people who are reading everything they want to read into my story to know where I am.”

The University of Iowa journalism professor — currently a visiting prof at the University of Michigan — is still getting hate mail and threatening calls from critics of his Atlantic magazine piece, “Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life,” which was posted Dec. 9.

On Tue, 20 Dec 2011 16:06:07 -0500 (EST), wrote:

Happy Hanukkah, Assclown.

Des Moines Register columnist Kyle Munson told readers on Tuesday that “I didn’t plan to write another word about [the Bloom controversy], but so much more fresh content has cropped up online (including the full-blown Twitter parody @StephenBloomIA) that a new list of links seems useful.” He has many.

Bloom arrived at his undisclosed location on Monday.

“I’m pleased that we’re neither in Iowa or Michigan at this point,” he says. “Last night a man called my wife and suggested I be made into a lampshade. A blog refers to me as Jew Stephen Bloom. I have received scores of hate-filled e-mails that have threatened me or my family.”

He won’t be “in hiding” long, though, as the university is back in session on Jan. 4.
“I’m not going to be bullied,” he says. “I will be back in that classroom.”

He’s been invited to appear on “The Colbert Report,” “John King, USA,” “Hardball With Chris Matthews” and “Piers Morgan Tonight,” but has turned them all down. “I believe appearing on those shows would not further discussion of the important issues raised in my Atlantic article and would descend into more vitriol,” he says.

Iowa media continue to criticize his piece. On Sunday, The Ames Tribune said that “Bloom’s choice to mock rather than enjoy the charm and humor in some of Iowa’s less-than-cutting-edge ways reveals more about him than it does about Iowa. Chalk it up to another shoddy piece of parachute journalism.”

On Monday, Des Moines Register columnist Ken Fuson called Bloom’s Atlantic essay “one of the funniest pieces you’ll ever read” and said that “at first glance, his essay reads like your typical cliché-choked, stereotype-stuffed, banal broadside against Iowa. Yawn.”

Instead, he has crafted a brilliant parody of what a loopy liberal professor from San Francisco would write if he tried to explain to his friends at Berkeley and Harvard why he has just wasted 20 years of his life in “Flyover Country.”

Bloom’s response to the guffaws and brickbats from Iowa media and residents:

Many Iowans – perhaps many Americans – today aren’t accustomed to sharp opinions that are at odds with their own views. If it doesn’t echo your own viewpoint, it’s wrong. If it doesn’t echo your own viewpoint, maybe it’s elitist, east coast, liberal media bias. …There’s a financial incentive for the Iowa media not to rock the Caucus boat. Political advertising means revenue for newspapers, TV and radio stations.

He adds that reaction to the article “is not machismo, it’s ‘State-ismo.’ It’s scary. Love it or leave it.”

Does he now regret writing the piece?

“When [the negative feedback] involves my family I feel absolutely horrible, and when my wife had to get that [lampshade] phone call, I felt like vomiting. But I knew as a journalist, stepping into writing this provocative post, that there would be problems. …That’s the nature of the business.”

There is a long, proud American tradition of the kind of journalism I practice. It involves humor, parody, satire, observation, and reporting. It goes back to Findley Peter Dunn (who coined the expression I live by as a journalist, “the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”), Jack London, James Agee, H.L. Menken, Grant Riceland, Marvel Cooke, Jim Murray, cartoonist Paul Conrad, Tom Wolfe, Mike Royko, Hunter S. Thompson, and scores of other courageous journalists.

I’m certainly nowhere even close to any of these titans and I would be the last to profess that I am, but the story I wrote comes from this essential legacy that each of these journalists gave us.

* Earlier: Not everyone hated Bloom’s essay about Iowa

The Pew Research Center says No. 1 story in 2011 was the faltering U.S. economy, “with coverage increasing substantially from a year earlier when economic unease helped alter the political landscape in the midterm elections.” The economy made up 20% of the space studied in newspapers and online and time on television and radio news. Middle East unrest made up 12% and the 2012 president election, 9%.

The year 2011 was also characterized by a jump of more than a third in coverage of international news, by a growing contrast in the content of the three broadcast networks and by a series of dramatic breaking news events that dominated coverage in ways unprecedented in PEJ’s five years of studying news agenda.

* The top stories of 2011 (Pew Research Center)

Larry Platt

“[Former sports columnnist] Bill [Conlin] has not been proven guilty or even charged with anything,” writes Philadelphia Daily News editor Larry Platt. “That said, I have to say the story made my stomach turn. I can’t shake the disgust and rage I felt after reading the allegations in the piece, nor can I stop thinking about the victims.” || Read his column and another Daily News story on the child-molestation allegations.

Last month, Lauren Pierce resigned as president of the University of Texas College Republicans after tweeting: Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.

The student who replaced her — Cassandra Wright — is now under fire for tweeting: My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack. Holla. #2012 #Obama. (The university’s dean of students calls the tweet “embarrassing and offensive.”)

A College Republicans spokesman tells the University of Texas newspaper:

The UT College Republicans neither condones any ‘tweeted’ remarks, nor any statements made by any member of our organization that may be hurtful and lacking in sensitivity. The opinion of our President Wright is that of her own not in keeping with our core values, our standards, and our code of conduct. While some within our organization may not respect the current President, UT College Republicans does respect the office of the President of the United States.

Wright has been retweeting reactions — some very ugly — to her Obama tweet.

* Second UT Republican leader catches flak for Twitter activity (Daily Texan)
* President of UT College Republicans appears to post racially tinged tweet (Austin American-Statesman)
* New president of UT College Republicans just as awful as the last one (Burnt Orange Report)

Sun-Times Media is expected to announce today that it’s being sold to Merrick Ventures, a Chicago technology holding company. (The sale price is said to be more than $20 million.) The new owners plan to tap former Newsday publisher Timothy Knight as CEO. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Many industry observers have scratched their heads over why the new group is plunging into the newspaper business at such a perilous time for the industry and the economy. The Sun-Times emerged from bankruptcy with little debt, and the paper has dramatically reduced costs under [its current chairman] by, among other things, slashing its workforce and outsourcing its printing operations to Tribune’s Freedom Center.

* Sun-Times sale expected to be announced Wednesday
* Sun-Times Media to be sold for more than $20 million