I generally don’t consider myself a “citizen journalist.” While I believe strongly that bloggers can be journalists, I don’t believe that bloggers are journalists simply by being bloggers and imitating their favorite left-wing or right-wing pundit. For me, the importance of blogging is that it creates genuine conversation and give and take, a willingness to rediscover once taboo subjects like politics and public policy. You know, the stuff it became no longer polite to discuss because none of us fragile souls could handle disagreement, so we had to leave it to the experts.
But occasionally, one sees a pompous soul defending “traditional journalism” and arguing that it is positively dangerous and unsafe to let the mob of “citizen journalists” loose upon an unsuspecting world. And next time I encounter such a poor misguided soul, I intend to ask him or her about Scott Glover and his hack job on Chief Judge Alexander Kozinski, as published in the LA Times.
As documented in several posts at Patterico’s Pontifications, it would appear that Scott Glover was “played” by one Cyrus Sanai, although perhaps “played” is the wrong word. Sanai appears to have pursued a relentless vendetta against Kozinski, and found a willing ally in Glover. As Kozinski’s wife explains in this rebuttal, Glover’s descriptions of the items on the website are at best misleading and at worst outright efforts to sensationalize things circulated all over the internet (typically with the “not work safe” heading). For example, what Glover describes as “video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal” turns out to be a a fairly popular Youtube video of a man who had gone to relieve himself in a pasture fending off an aroused donkey. (The San Francisco Chronicle, apparently wishing to demonstrate the further virtues of trained journalists over bloggers, characterized the video as images of bestiality.
As a result of this rather shoddy bit of professional journalism, a well respected judge has been made an object of ridicule and disgust, Kozinski declared a mistrial and initiated an ethics investigation of himself — costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for no good purpose, and a lawyer with a reputation for vindictiveness is boasting how — with the help of such skilled professional journalism — he brought down a federal judge who dared defy him. Nice.
And the response of the LA Times? Kozinski should have just ignored the story. Boy, says the Times Editorial Board, that would have sure shown those blue noses who still read newspapers! I rather agree with Patterico, however, who notes that the real question is why did the LA Times put this story on its front page? Not since Bob Balaban manipulated Sally Field to go after Paul Newman in Absence of Malice has a reporter so willingly served as the tool of another to report something so accurately and yet untruthfully. It is merely the crowning insult that the LA Times should editorialize that Kozinski is somehow at fault for not telling them to bugger off — preferably in front of a camera for the amusement of the masses and future storage at alex.kozinski.com.
To repeat, I make no claims to being a “citizen journalist” simply because I blog. And I respect the work of real journalists no matter what medium they use. But after incidents like this, professional journalists should hardly wonder why so many bloggers feel they can replace them.
Stay tuned . . . .