Monday, September 22, 2003

FREE TO BE YOU AND ME, BUT NOT ON THE DIME OF THE BEE. The cool-kid bloggers ("the thing today is to care passionately, and be right-wing") are honking like geese about the Sacramento Bee blogger who, because of a "contentious statement" (sez the Bee ombudsman), is now subject to the horrible indignity of editorial oversight.

Imagine! A bylined writer for a major daily has to report to an editor! B. Franklin spins in his grave! Why, the whole idea is "inimical to sound and well-established blogging practices," sez Kaus (for an example of these practices in action, see here).

Like I could give a good rat's ass. As a longtime pro writer, I am aware that taking a publisher's shilling is not that different from taking the king's shilling -- it automatically puts one's deathless contributions to the journalistic arts at the mercy of others and their diverse agendas.

This sometimes leads to hair-raising abuses, such as this reported insertion of an uncalled-for and abusive editorial POV to a news story. But look -- you're reading about that abuse right now. Because ultimately the only meaningful oversight of overzealous or ignominious editorial practice is other papers (or magazines or weblogs or whatever). They're the only entities with a strong motivation to uncover this kind of stuff. I thought that, as free-market enthusiasts, the cool kids would understand that.

I wouldn't be shocked if more people have read about blogger Weintraub's problems than read his original post.

BTW, in case you were wondering, here's what got Weintraub in trouble (per the ombudsman's report):
Weintraub wrote that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante "certainly owed his elevation to the job of Assembly speaker to his ethnic background and to the support he received from fellow Latinos. If his name had been Charles Bustmont rather than Cruz Bustamante, he would have finished his legislative career as an anonymous back-bencher."

Further, he alleged, "it's indisputably true that the Legislature's Latino Caucus advocates policies that are destructive to their own people and to greater California, in the name of ethnic unity." The caucus protested in a letter to Bee Publisher Janis Besler Heaphy.

I defend to the death, and all that, Weintraub's right to tell us that Bustamante got everything handed to him because he's Mexifornian, but that doesn't really imply a God-given right to paychecks from the Bee. If he chafes at his treatment, Weintraub can always go work for his defender, Matt Welch. A cut in pay may result, but isn't that what integrity is all about?

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