Yes, as we all know by now, the City Paper's big article on blogging is out. 2 Political Junkies is well represented (I'm sure some will think over-represented) in it. I thought that it was pretty good overall, but I have to say that I was taken aback when I read this sentence:
At the same time, bloggers are allowed to play favorites, or even donate to political campaigns, as Lupinacci did with a $200 contribution to Bill Peduto's mayoral campaign last year.The article's author, Marty Levine, had not asked me any questions about political donations and so I did not expect to see this information there.
Now, I know that campaign donations are public information. I'm not saying that Levine had no right to look the information up and publish it.
Still, when I saw this, it felt kinda creepy and intrusive.
My first thought was, why am I being singled out? Am I the only blogger to have made any donations? I quickly realized that the majority of bloggers mentioned blog anonymously so no one could look up the info about them if they had wanted to. No doubt, Levine would have. (And, I still may have been the only one to contribute to the mayor's race last year anyway.)
Now, neither of my two quotes were about either Ravenstahl or Peduto, so the donation information was used solely to add to the meme that bloggers get to play by their own rules -- rules that are much less restrictive than those for the MSM.
Here, for example, are some rules from The New York Times Company Journalism Ethics Policy:
89. Journalists do not take part in politics. While staff members are entitled to vote and to register in party primaries, they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of our news operations. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics.
90. Staff members may not themselves give money to any political candidate or election cause or raise money for one. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributions, any political giving by a staff member would risk feeding a false impression that we are taking sides. [Emphasis added]
Many members of the MSM go the extra step of registering as Independents. Bill O'Reilly, for example.
OK. That was snark.
My point being that while I'm sure most journalists try to maintain objectivity (FOX News not included), many do vote and therefore obviously have opinions and preferences when it comes to candidates. Moreover, most people might say that there is a discernible overall point of view found at many media outlets. Is there not a difference to be found between, say, the Trib and the Post-Gazette? Maybe, not just in the editorial pages -- even if it's only in which stories that they choose to cover?
I have called myself an "Activist Blogger" to more than one reporter. That is clear in the events that I choose to post and the issues and people that I choose to write about.
I have endorsed candidates -- but, then again, so do many MSM outlets.
The real difference between bloggers and "reporters" may be that with bloggers, you have no doubt what they really think about a particular candidate. Any "agenda" is right up in your face.
That does not mean, however, that I would post anything that I knew to be false, or that I was unclear whether or not was true.
It does mean, howerver, that if as PittGirl says a candidate is "very obliging in giving me fodder," I will be more than happy to use it on my blog.
I'm not saying that having my "agenda" out there for all the world to see somehow makes me better than a reporter who must not show any subjectivity.
I read blogs and I read the MSM.
I believe that there's a place for both of us.
Like most, I want reliability and credibility in both the blogs, as well as the newspapers, magazines and television stations that I frequent.
I believe that 2pj provides that.
And remember, when you believe that you find this blog doing otherwise, you always have the option to tell us and all our readers so in our comments section -- or start a blog of your own and have at us.