My husband and I watch NCIS faithfully, and one of the funniest things we see every week is Mark Harmon’s character Gibbs smacking Michael Weatherly’s DiNozzo in the noggin. I almost want to do the same for suspended LAT columnist-turned-blogger Michael Hiltzik – I think he needs some sense knocked into him.
Long story short: Patterico proved Hiltzik was posting under pseudonyms, to praise his own blog posts, and even had the IP address evidence to prove it. Hiltzik said, essentially, so what? Kevin Roderick pointed it all out and the LAT suspended Hiltzik’s blog. All in one day. Now that’s a bad day. Hey, at least they haven’t shut you down, the way they did me – yet.
What amazes me about this whole series is events is that Hiltzik somehow thought it would be OK to post under so many pseudonyms to essentially puff himself up. He had no qualms admitting it, either:
…Frey evidently pored through the IP addresses of comments on his blog to discover that sometimes I commented under my own name, and sometimes under a pseudonym. He noticed that this is a pseudonym I’ve used on other occasions. He pats himself on the back (so to speak) for his brilliant sleuthing.
He seems to think that pseudonymous posting is deceptive, though he can’t articulate why that should be…
(I would have included the entire grafs, but they’re pretty long-winded and sort of besides the point.)
What is wrong with this practice (posting comments praising your work and attacking your foes under pseudonyms) has been articulated on so many other blogs already, but I’ll reiterate them here. In journalism, doing such a thing is like writing a newspaper article, then writing a letter to the editor under a made-up name, praising the article. It’s like calling the family of a murder victim and saying you’re a long-lost aunt, rather than a reporter, so you can get access. It’s essentially misrepresenting yourself – a big no-no for journalists. Well, at least in my opinion and for many others journalists I know, knew, work with and have worked with.
Mr. Hiltzik, try looking at it from another point of view – what if Patterico had done the same thing? What if he posted under “Parama” or something similarly silly and used it to criticize you and praise his own posts? Hot damn! You’d probably call for him to be disbarred or something. (I’m exaggerating, I know, but still.)
I know I’ve mentioned here and there that I maintain this blog and an anonymous one. I’ve had this blog for a very long time and have never veered from using my name when posting comments elsewhere or while blogging – unless it was on my anonymous blog. But the difference between Mr. Hiltzik and I lies in the fact that I’ve never tried to use my alias to attack others or to puff myself up. Pshhh, that’s a great way to get caught blogging anonymously. Besides, the anonymous blog, which I started when I became a print reporter, is largely more of a personal outlet now and is really only read by a tiny audience (meaning one, heh) that I’ve cultivated since maybe 2000.
Anyway, there have been some funny comments made that I wanted to share.
To paraphrase Mel Brooks, “Newspapering’s easy. Blogging’s hard.”
Okay, not entirely true, of course. But I do think traditional journos look down on blogging and think it’s just a fun place where rules can be bent – without realizing it’s an entirely different medium with rules of its own, some of which can be found in traditional journalism.
Like: Don’t Make Shit Up.
I like your conclusion the best, the bit about Patterico’s “remaining readers.” You actually think that Patterico will lose readership for making you the laughingstock of media circles.
PS: I’m sorry that you don’t appreciate Cathy Seipp, because in my unbiased opinion she is absolutely brilliant about everything in the entire universe.
And let me just be clear: I am not calling for Hiltzik to be fired or anything like that. Just use this golden rule: If you wouldn’t do it in journalism, don’t do it while blogging. I mean, dang – we all know how good Google is.