Saturday, June 09, 2007

INNOCENT: A blogger "shines a light"

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
______________________________________________________

David Boyd is an independent-minded, articulate blogger. He lives in Burlington, NC, home of DNA Security, whose director, Brian Meehan, conspired with Durham DA Mike Nifong to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence in the Duke lacrosse case.

John Robinson is editor of the Greensboro News & Record, that city’s only daily newspaper. The N&R’s circulation area includes Burlington.

Boyd and Robinson recently had an exchange at Boyd’s eponymous blog. While their exchange touched on the Duke case, I’m really posting on it because Boyd’s reply to a comment Robinson made about one of Boyd’s posts is a superb example of one of the Internet challenges able bloggers pose for MSM news organizations and editors like Robinson.

Some background before we get to Boyd and Robinson’s exchange.

Greensboro is the home of Bennett College, which describes itself as “one of only two historically Black colleges in the U. S. exclusively for women.” The college has struggled recently, but a “revitalization program” is underway.

Bennett has hired a new president: former USA Today columnist and talk show host Julianne Malveaux.

On May 5 Robinson’s N&R ran a story on Malveaux that read like a Bennett College press announcement. But it appeared in the News section under an N&R reporter’s byline. Here are a few samples:

A self-confessed "rebel child" of the '60s, Malveaux says her advocacy was birthed and honed in her native San Francisco, where she joined civic and social organizations such as the NAACP's youth chapter. She even attended Black Panther meetings, though she never joined the group. …

She continued to champion justice as an adult, crafting a career as a columnist, political pundit and commentator, often speaking to national audiences on issues of race, gender and economic impact. …

She's known for her commitment and never forgets a promise….
There’s more, as they say.

And the “more” included this:
Her quick wit and words have won her fans — and detractors. Malveaux caught flak in the early 1990s for comments about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and more recently, for remarks about the Duke lacrosse case. …
Those references to Justice Thomas and the Duke case set Boyd to blogging. He told his readers just what Malveaux’s 1994 “comments” about Thomas were :
"The man is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that’s how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person."
Malveaux’s “remarks about the Duke lacrosse case” were made on April 12, a month before the N&R’s “news story” and the day following NC Attorney General Roy Cooper’s finding that the three victim’s of the “Nifong/DPD team’s” attempted frame-up were innocent.

Boyd quoted Malveaux:
"I really, you know, I think something happened here. I think these guys are bad apples. They may not - you may not be able to prove rape. You may not be able to prove anything. But something did happen there, and it was something that was wrong."
Boyd provided links to a video of Malveaux’s Thomas comments and an audio of her Duke lacrosse remarks.

Boyd also had some comments of his own. He chided the N&R for what he called its “interesting decision” to omit what Malveaux had actually said from what, with tongue in check, Boyd termed the N&R’s “hard-hitting, unfluffy journalistic undertaking”

The second comment Boyd’s post drew was from editor Robinson:
"Yes, we should have included more on the Duke issue. But, really, we have covered it in earlier papers. And we did include her other comments that you omitted in which she basically said she needed to learn to keep her tongue., As for the comment 13 years ago, well, it was 13 years ago long before she was the president of a private institution."
Boyd responded to Robinson:
"You're the one who brought it up.
...Malveaux caught flak in the early 1990s for comments about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...
But then you chose not to include those comments, for which, as far as I know, she has never apologized.

Would it have been too enterprising to ask if she still feels that way or if she'd like the opportunity to say she's sorry?

As for learning to keep her tongue, the Duke comments, which you also failed to include for reference, were made less than a month ago.

It might have been an interesting question to pose to her and report - how she reconciles the quest to keep her tongue with those assumption-laden remarks.

Look, I want Bennett to succeed as much as anybody. But that doesn't mean they should get a pass by the local press when they hire someone with a penchant for making controversial statements.
No, Bennett shouldn’t get a pass from the local press. And neither should other institutions, “heavy advertisers,” certain “leading citizens,” and individuals and organizations whose actions dovetail with a newspaper’s “interests.”

MSM news organizations hand out lots of “press passes” when it serves their interests.

But bloggers like David Boyd are "shining lights" on many MSM “press passes,” thereby making it much harder for news organizations to say, in effect, to certain parties: "We'll give you a pass."

No wonder so many MSM journalists are critical of bloggers, or at least the ones who "shine a light" on their "press passes."

David Boyd’s a fine blogger. I hope you look at his Malveaux post and at his main page today.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

John,

main page.... not found

JWM said...

Dear Anon,

The links are fixed now.

Thank you for calling the problem to my attention.

John

Anonymous said...

Who selected her as the new president?

scott said...

Julianne Malveauz has been a loud mouth forever. The only way she will ever "keep her tongue" is if she swallows it. Bennett made a huge mistake hiring this wacko.

As to using blogs vs. the MSM in the attempt to receive a balanced look at the news, it is no contest. Bloggers typically make no bones about where they're coming from. Read NRO or Powerline, you know you're getting a right of center perspective. Read Daily Kos or Huffington, you know you're getting a left of center perspective. The MSM tries to portray themselves as neutral when 90% of them would make Karl Marx blush.

The material bloggers present is fresh and good bloggers update as new stuff comes in on the topic. THey link to other bloggers that provide further information or a different perspective to the topic under discussion. When bloggers use video and audio clips, thereby combining print and broadcast media, they are even more to either one standing on its own, which is the best newspapers and news magazines and TV and radio news can do.

The material from the print MSM especially was stale before it hit the newstand or was delivered to your door. Think Newsweek is going to point you to a story in Time or the NYT to the WaPo for futher information? Hah! Not likely. Not that you would be missing anything because the Time article would be just as worthless as the Newsweek article so why bother wasting your time.

Newspapers are the living embodiment of yesterday's news. Long live the blogs.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the advantage bloggers have it that they have unlimited space, they *have* to cite their references, and they have the confidence to "whoops" a correction.

Of course, the MSM could do the same, if they so chose. Just put a # at the end of every story so that a reader could go online and read additional material and notes.

But perhaps that is too easy.

-AC

Anonymous said...

To;John and other bloggers,
From: Corwin
As I'm sure many of you know,college presidents primarily fund raise.So they got a well known name.I've heard Malveaux has a doctorate in econ,but have never been curious enough to read it.Ideally,blogs and MSM will cmplement each other,but this happened very often.Finally,re' Ms M's apology;It doesn't sound as if she regrets saying it although she may regret the trouble her words caused.