Readers Note: To understand the post below, you must be familiar with Duke's Chronicle Outs JinC which I posted very early this morning.
Please withhold judgments about the email exchange below between Ryan McCartney, last year's Chronicle editor and this year's editorial page editor, and myself until you've read both emails.
I'll comment further on the exchange later today. Right now I just want to get the emails out before you.
McCartney's email is presented here as a paste in so it's exactly as he wrote it.
In a message dated 04/27/08 04:28:13 Eastern Daylight Time, (email address deleted by JinC)
From the start, I want to make one thing very clear: I am writing you
this e-mail *off the record*. By that, I expect that it will not
appear on your Web site. You have not respected this common rule of
journalism in the past, so I feel it is necessary to clarify that
I rarely check your Web site. That said, I stumbled upon it today and
was *shocked* to read:
"It was from McCartney that this year's TC editor, David Graham,
learned my identity."
Of course, I knew that you would get around to writing on this topic.
You have a personal stake in it. But I also would have expected that
you check your facts and refrain from making unsubstantiated
David did NOT, in fact, learn your identity from me. These days, it's
pretty easy to find out someone's identity with Caller ID. I am
absolutely insulted that you would think that I would tell him. And I
am even more insulted that you did not bother to contact either David
or me to verify that fact.
By doing so, I am now questioning more than ever your honesty and
reasonableness as a bloggerhe grounds upon which you justified the
fact that you posted anonymously. When a writer cannot be trusted to
get the facts right, anonymity can be a dangerous thing.
I didn't want to throw myself into this issue, but I am personally
offended by what you did, John. That kind of shoddy reporting and
loose understanding of journalism is the very reason why I've
refrained from e-mailing you since last year.
I hopend trusthat you give more care to your other posts.
I responded to Ryan McCartney some minutes ago as follows:
You say you "rarely check" my "Web site," but you "stumbled upon it today."
How coincidental that you "stumbled upon it" just a few hours after I put up a post with your name in it, the first time an archives search reveals I've mentioned you in a post in five months.
Your coincidental "stumble upon" led to your angry, error-filled email attacking my honesty, but offering nothing other than ad hominems to justify what you said.
And labeled it all "off the record."
Yet you know and have acknowledged there is not what you call a "common rule" of journalism whereby "off the record" is established unilaterally by someone just declaring "this is off the record."
Please reread this Mar. 6, 2007 post - Chronicle editor doesn't understand - in its entirety, noting especially this portion under Item 2:
(Here’s the second email McCartney sent after I told him I hadn’t agreed to an off the record exchange - John)Technically yes, Ryan, as in: "I can tell you as a physician that, technically yes, you're pregnant."
I say "off the record" so that the two of us can have a more frank discussion of the issue you raise. Technically, both parties have to agree to that, yes. In spirit, though, and in the interest of having frank conversations with others usually it's not an issue. (emphasis mine)
Attempting to unilaterally involve a journalist/blogger in "off the record" is an old manipulative device - "My opponent has (insert some shameful act) and that's why he supports the bill. But that's off the record and if you have to use it, don't attribute it to me."
Ethical journalists/bloggers don't allow themselves to be manipulated into unilateral "off the record." They're careful with whom and under what circumstances they enter into "off the record."
And they don't attempt to manipulate others with "off the record," including the sending of error-filled emails which they later show to others "off the record," of course.
But that's all familiar ground between us Ryan, as your email I quoted in the Mar. 6, 2007 post makes clear.
Last August I sent Editor Graham this post - The Chronicle & "off the record" (Post 2) - which details the proper uses of "off the record" and source confidentially. I called Graham's and readers' attention in particular to what a colleague said in a memorial tribute to David Halberstam about their importance and how upset Halberstam would get with journalists who violated ethical canons and allowed themselves to enter into manipulative relationships with sources.
You might want to follow the link to the memorial tribute.
I have very clear recollections of Graham on more than one occasion telling me it was from you he learned my identity.
Specifically Graham referenced and we discussed a time when you disclosed my identity to a group at The Chronicle (TC). You were angry with me because I'd posted the Mar. 6 post which included an email you'd unilaterally labeled "off the record," something I'd repeatedly asked you not to do, and something you'd repeatedly said you wouldn't do, but kept doing.
I posted your "off the record" because enough was enough. You knew better.
In similar circumstances, I'd do it again.
I didn't doubt what Graham said about learning from you my identity because it fit with what I'd been told by a cluster of callers - usually very late at night and sometimes obscene and threatening - who began calling shortly after the Mar. 6 post went up.
They all cited you as having told them who I was, how dishonest I was and how badly I'd treated you.
A few civil people ID'ing themselves as TC staffers also called during that time. They wanted me to know they didn't approve of your outing me last year or of the other types of calls I and my wife were receiving.
Was I really wrong to believe what Graham told me? Did your disclosures of my identity those callers referred to not happen?
You say I am dishonest.
One of the things I like best about blogging is there's a written record of what you do. My archives - now containing over 3, 000 posts - are easily searched by anyone.
I'm content for fair-minded people to read those posts and judge my honesty.
You say I have a stake in bringing up the foregoing matters concerning us.
For more than a year I've never mentioned them on the blog or made any formal complaint to TC.
I've never mentioned them in any of the scores of comments I've made a TC's Web site or in any correspondence with TC.
And I never mentioned them in my post responding to TC's outing of me in the Apr. 1 article under a "Boobs Allison" byline and Graham's outing of me in his Apr. 23 column.
I was content to let it all pass until I received your angry, error-filled ad hominem referencing them.
Readers will note, Ryan, that you bring up and reference matters you accuse me of having a stake in bringing up, although I didn't in hundreds of posts, comments and emails in which I easily could have.
However, in this world of instant and permanent cyber-communication, I'd be a fool to let your email pass without response even though I'd like to.
I'll respond later today at my blog, and subsequently as events suggest.
Finally this: In the post you say you "stumbled upon ... today" I made the very important points to readers that they shouldn't assume Graham and others at TC involved in outing me are typical of all at TC; that there are very able and honest journalism practitioners at TC who do fine, sometimes even outstanding, work that serves us all; and that while Graham meant to strike at me, it's really those able and honest staffers at TC whom he hurt.
And I think now you have, too.
John in Carolina