Monday, December 21, 2009

The Evolution Of How They See Us

"I'm not a journalist". It is the karmic shield Erick Erickson uses to defend his continued spew of rumor and innuendo. Rumor? Good enough if it matches the agenda. Verification? Why bother. Consequences? What's that.

And why should he bother? His methods seem to work in his favor.

Time to update the timeline:

February 2007 - Georgia Public Broadcasting's Susanne Capaluto states she would never quote a blogger.

June 2007 - Athens Banner Herald editor Jim Thompson declares mainstream's use of real names creates credibility

December 2007 - Athens Banner Herald's Blake Aued says "When y’all start doing your own reporting, rather than rely on rumors, press releases and the dreaded MSM, then you can call yourselves journalists"

July 2008 - Creative Loafing Editor Ken Edelstein questions how anyone can trust an anonymous blogger

April 2009 - Athens Banner Herald editor Jim Thompson says "In the end, then, whatever the media platform, what it means to be a journalist today is what it always has meant...It's not a matter of training...It's a matter of trust"

May 2009 - For the first time, the Atlanta Journal Constitution links to a non-professional non-political local blog - DecaturMetro

June 2009 - The AJC links without attribution to...TMZ

July 2009 - Jim Galloway comes to the stunning conclusion that Peach Pundit is not a journalistic outfit. Also, the first time "Erick Erickson does not consider himself a journalist" appears in print.

August 2009 - That stunning revelation does not prevent Galloway from linking to a Peach Pundit story about a "Draft Jane Kiddman" website. Despite the author's notoriety as a hyperbolic troublemaker and Jim's own recent discovery that Peach Pundit was not 'journalistic", the top political reporter in the state says the story should be "taken seriously".

December 2009 - With little possibility of verification, Erick publishes lurid details of an alleged affair involving the Lt. Governor of the state of Georgia. No sources. No evidence. Just what he's heard.

Less than two weeks later - Peach Pundit is called a must read by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a local TV reporter. Blake Aued tells readers to go to Peach Pundit for coverage of the Capitol chaos.

A question for my journalist readers - are you proud we've reached this point?

47 comments:

Lucid Idiocy said...

When you say "reached," are you under the impression that this is a new and unique situation?

griftdrift said...

Read the timeline again, Travis. Particularly Blake's two comments. We've "progressed" from journalists saying blogs are worthless because they just print rumor to journalists saying go here because they have good coverage and pointing to one of the most notorious rumor mongers.

You can't with the one hand say "you guys are no good because you don't play by the rules" and then with the other hand point to the biggest offender and say, "go there".

griftdrift said...

My point being why would Erick (or anyone else for that matter) strive to be better when not only is it not criticized, hell, it's rewarded.

Lucid Idiocy said...

Erick is "rewarded" because he's a nationally known figure, a quotable pundit and a Republican who's willing to take shots at Republicans.

This just in: The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

The fact that there are blogs involved is secondary. It's just a change to the medium.

Plus, surveying the state of political blogs in Georgia right now, it's kind of a wasteland when it comes to original reporting.

Peach Pundit has to be mined for information, because it functions more as a message board than anything else. But there are leads to be had that you can't get too many other places, if from any other places.

And, if you want to take the pulse of tech-savvy conservatives with axes to grind and too much time on their hands, Peach Pundit is indeed the go-to must read.

griftdrift said...

And there you go. The real reason is because Peach Pundit is the big boy in town.

Fine. That's the game now?

Then, I don't ever want to hear that holier than thou crap again. Ever.

griftdrift said...

And another thing. You know why Erick is nationally known figure? You. Not you specifically Travis, but you the press.

Because you give these gas bags the attention until they become an immovable force, then we all sit around, clutch pearls and wonder what happened to decency.

Give me a break.

And yes, I'm bitter. And yes, I'm angry.

Because after years of being preached about how this is proper and that is proper and you can't call yourself this and you can't do that, to have the excuse "well he's famous so he gets attention" just comes off as so much bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Just because I link to something doesn't mean I approve of it.

On the Casey Cagle story, for example, we've all heard the same rumors. If Erick is the one who wants to get sued for libel, that's his business.

Peach Pundit is sort of the TMZ of political blogs. Tawdry, yes, but sometimes they get the scoop. What's changed, I think, is people's ability to differentiate idle rumor-mongering and factual reporting. Either of which, I should add, can appear in print or online.

Blake Aued

griftdrift said...

So you admit it Blake? Your standard has changed?

Sara said...

Once upon a time, journalists had to put in the time and legwork to develop contacts in the state legislature in order to get tips about potential stories, and develop sources to verify the stories. But now they're apparently content to go read a blog to get their tips, tips that are rarely if ever verified by anyone on the record? That's sad.

I'm not sure if it's due to laziness or the financial reality that newsrooms are in today, with less experienced reporters who are far overburdened compared to their predecessors. Either way, it's still sad.

Lucid Idiocy said...

Sara: You don't really think that's all I do, right? I assure you it's not.

Grift: If you want to get linked offer something no one else has.

griftdrift said...

Maybe I will, Travis. Maybe it's time to do what I've long thought I should do. Lower standards to the level of goat fucking child molester, tales of office BJs, talking about love children which now seems to pass for what is worthy. Why try to keep the conversation elevated when no one is listening.

Sara said...

Travis, all I know is what you said earlier in the thread, which was that you go there to look for leads. I certainly hope you do more work than that for your stories, and hope that most reporters do as well. But when Erick is crowing on Twitter about how a reporter told him that his Cagle post gave the media cover to run with stories they couldn't verify otherwise, I am greatly concerned. Nobody in this state should be using Erick as verification of anything, except the existence of his own murky agenda.

Lucid Idiocy said...

I said offer something no one else has, Grift, not lower your standards.

Jesus, man, has the world always been so black and white with you? You act like you woke up today, outraged to discover that the world is not fair.

Erick Erickson calling a retiring supreme court justice a goat fucking child molester is news, particularly in Macon. When he speaks, I and others pay attention because he holds some sway on the local, state and national level, particularly with conservatives.

If you want everyone to pay attention to you, do something no one else is doing. Break stories no one else is breaking. Instead of bitching about everyone else's standards, go report a story with your own high standards.

Otherwise, your argument seems to be that society pays too much attention to the glitz and the ridiculous instead of substance.

Well no fucking shit, my friend.

griftdrift said...

I have

Anonymous said...

Is he really a goat fucker? His mama would be proud.

But more likely the name calling blogger is a pig fucker, dumbed down to communicate to an increasingly stupid GOP electorate.

Lucid Idiocy said...

http://tiny.cc/slboE

Now that is something I can't get too many other places. And everything in the jist of it comes from easily available public documents.

I cant only speak for my blog, but it will post the shit out of budget and tax analysis.

I also still want to hear your thoughts on who should be credentialed to cover the Georgia General Assembly.

I guarantee you that conversation is taking place. Please speak to both House and Senate policies, as they will be decided separately.

Johnathan said...

I also still want to hear your thoughts on who should be credentialed to cover the Georgia General Assembly.

While I think bloggers should be permitted to gain access, I think there needs to be some sort of verification they'll use said access and turn it into original reporting and/or commentary. This comes, probably, through trial-and-error over time, but more and more bloggers are working to provide that type of coverage and, given the evolving medium, should be afforded the opportunity to put their skills to the test.

Of course, a lot of this is a time commitment issue. I have no doubt there are more-than-capable bloggers out there who can provide quality coverage if afforded the chance. The problem is they work full-time jobs and use blogging as an alternative avenue. Such is the case with me, and I blog a hell of a lot ... but rarely enough for me to aggressively track down a lead or attend a mid-day meeting.

Sadly, there's no funding mechanism which can reward this yet (or, shall I say, no funding mechanism which can reward this type of work ... if you want to concoct lurid hobbies for Supreme Court justices, you might drive some traffic then).

Travis, I will question you on this logic though ...

If you want everyone to pay attention to you, do something no one else is doing. Break stories no one else is breaking. Instead of bitching about everyone else's standards, go report a story with your own high standards.

You've already conceded that Erick gets attention because he says boneheaded things and, by virtue of his local elected office and prominent position as a pundit, that warrants news coverage. Erick, in short, gets attention because of who he is, not what he does

If Grift breaks a story and beats you on a story ... are you going to credit him?

Lucid Idiocy said...

"If Grift breaks a story and beats you on a story ... are you going to credit him?"

Sure. That's fair. It's going to have to be a story I'm interested in, though.

Amber Rhea said...

Sure. That's fair. It's going to have to be a story I'm interested in, though.

Then you've proved Grift's own point, which (as I understand it) is that no one is interested in substantive reporting, they are interested only in titillating rumors.

This becomes an infinite loop where you can't win for losing.

Anonymous said...

Anytime someone -- blogger, mainstream journalist, whoever -- offers information to the public -- the only yardstick for the consumer to judge the value of that information is whether its source can be trusted.

In most of the mainstream media, that trust has been won through long years of publishing verifiably factual information, in most cases including the specific sources for that information.

The blogosphere, as a relatively new platform, is attracting any number of practitioners who bring a variety of standards to their work. Some bloggers will deal in rumor and innuendo, others will not, and still others will make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

In this kind of environment, any journalist -- old media or new media -- worthy of the name will (or, at least, should) seek to independently verify anything he or she sees in the blogosphere.

I continue to believe that, over time, those blogs that publish carefully researched information will rise to the top, and become a valuable part of the information universe.

Jim Thompson

griftdrift said...

Jim, despite my ranting and raving of the past few days, I agree. It's also one of the reasons I was very public about my agonizing over writing that piece. Also, it's one of the reasons I have backed away from that precipice. In the end, I do this for myself (and for my readers I suppose) and I'm not going to change in some vain pursuit of fame or fortune.

But here is what I think is chapping my ass. Why won't anyone call Erick on his crap? You know what sparked this latest buboe of frustration? He called Doug Richards report on Larry O'Neal "amateurish". And STILL Doug (who is far too nice a guy) says he's a must read.

This guy makes a living insulting your profession and no one in your industry will call him on it. In fact it's the opposite. Jim Galloway (and others to a lesser extent) provides him legitimacy when he says things like "this should be taken seriously".

You (in the general sense) are feeding the very beast that is intent on ripping you apart.

I just don't understand it. I've heard dozens of journalist over the past three years roll out every canard in the world about how new media is going to tear down the bastions of Democracy, yet when this character from Macon is intent on seeing just how far he can push those pillars towards the tipping point - crickets.

Won't anyone call him out for this madness?

Sara said...

It's kind of sad that the only people calling out Erick for it are other bloggers...the unwashed masses who supposedly lack any credibility or integrity and will say anything for a page view. Those are the only folks I have seen consistently questioning his motivations, methods, or the validity of the rumors he throws up on PP.

Anonymous said...

Grift:

To me, your discussion reads as 'sour grapes' since Peach Pundit published salacious events that you chose to withhold on the reason of good taste and ethics.

Both ethics and good taste are characteristics of a gentleman, yet the rules of engagement for politics are hardly gentlemanly.

You have the ability to transcend from the 'bloodsport' of politics to a true Statesman.

Be that Statesman and the world will beat a path to your door.

B Balz

griftdrift said...

B Balz, I appreciate the sentiment and will admit maybe there is a bit of sour grapes here. I admit it bothers me that I agonized over this publicly and was privately admonished, yet Erick does far worse and is seen as a "must read" or "coverage". Do people view me differently than Erick? Expect the higher standard? I don't know. It's difficult to tell.

But really my point is it appears the view of what is blog content is worth a professional journalist referencing seems to have radically changed and I am wondering why.

Is it because it's Erick? Is it because Peach Pundit is the big dog? Is it because the whole story is dirty that it's not possible to stay away from the taint?

I don't know the answer but I do know that three years ago, I don't think anyone (including some of the people commenting here) would have touched this.

Something changed.

Anonymous said...

Yessir, something HAS changed.

Powerful folks recognize blogs influence people enough make them act. Politically, grassroots power, is true power. Influencing a lawmakers constituent to act is HUGE.

You will recall that GoDekalb.com, which I believe is now defunct, carried the north DeKalb incorporation debate with about six active bloggers?

To me, that was a 'fire test' showing that a fledging technical process (blogging) went beyond an experiment into real world action. The incorporation of Dunwoody was greatly influenced by GoDeKalb.com, and to a lesser degree, mainstream media (MSM).

Ultimately, the organizational ability of those folks pro-Dunwoody made that City happen. Yet, the power of intelligent, often acerbic, blogger commentary was not lost on pols, political operatives (as you so very well noted), and others.

Never quit delivering timely news, and occasional rumor, and opinions. We are all better off for it.

Best Holiday wishes,

B Balz

Joeventures said...

This whole thread speaks to why I don't read Peach Pundit, and I pay far less attention to the AJC than I once did. The AJC has become much more a place to go in Atlanta for overzealous pundits of all stripes to get attention -- and much less a source of reliable news.

As B Balz points out, politics is a bloodsport, and, "You have the ability to transcend from the 'bloodsport' of politics to a true Statesman." The AJC also has that ability, but rarely uses it. Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

The answer to your question "Why won't anyone call Erick on his crap?" is contained within the question itself.

He's not called on it because everyone with even a slight acquaintance with his musings and with Peach Pundit already recognizes it all as "crap." And, I suspect that anyone who starts today to regularly check in on Erick and Peach Pundit will pretty quickly come to that conclusion.

I think most folks approach Peach Pundit the same way they approach the tabloids lined up at the supermarket checkout. They'll look at it, sure, but they understand that what they're getting does not in any way conform to even minimal journalistic standards.

When Erick refers to a Supreme Court justice in the terms he used, he assures his own irrelevance as a source of serious news or commentary.

Jim Thompson

jay said...

"When Erick refers to a Supreme Court justice in the terms he used, he assures his own irrelevance as a source of serious news or commentary"

yeah, that's why he doesn't get invited to guest host radio talk shows or practice ounditry on fox anymore, oh wait...

griftdrift said...

Jim,

The problem is it has become a blind spot for the press. Surely no one takes them seriously. Meanwhile significant portions of the populace believe the President was born in Kenya, the earth is 6000 years old and don't get me started on Area 51.

My point being that if someone was as aggressively attacking my profession, hell my passion, the way Erick attacks yours, I would be punching back. I understand the need to stay above the fray, but it might be time to realize you're taking more damage than you perceive.

Sara said...

Also, how can we say that it's self-evident to all that PP is spewing crap, when numerous journalists have said both in these comments and in the links in the original post that it's a must-read, great place to get tips, etc.? There is some serious dissonance going on there, unless you're all saying it's must-read crap and a great place to get tips that never pan out. Which makes little sense.

If it's an enjoyable read because you like seeing all the rumored scandals, that's one thing. But then it shouldn't be regarded as a great place to get tips or a newsworthy source, but a simple gossip rag. The Georgia politics version of the Star or National Enquirer, perhaps? (Which yes, are occasionally right. But also get sued fairly often.)

jay said...

yeah but for every salacious story there are more than a dozen stories about who's running for what, who's campaign is doing what, or what else is going on under the gold dome, it's not as racy rumor heavy as y'all are making it sound at all...but it does have a variety of posters w/ access to some insider stuff and is read by and commented on by a neat cross section of activists, elected officials and even other bloggers and real journalists, really mostly its a place for political nerds in ga to chit chat..

Sara said...

Respectfully, Jay, no journalists are going to PP to read y'alls chit chat, or Pete Randall's latest ravings, or the reposted candidate press releases. They go for the juicy juicy (possibly true) scoop. Sure, most of the time the place is just conversational interaction about GA politics, but most of the time the Enquirer is just pictures of Oprah looking fat or Nicole Kidman without makeup, too.

jay said...

sara, of course i'm not under the delusions that our conversations are that interesting to journalists that check up on pp, just trying to put 90+% of what goes on there into some context.

Anonymous said...

Grift, it may just be that I'm a victim of perspective. As an editorial page editor, having soemone aggressively attacking my profession is a daily occurrence. If they're not attacking the editorial page for being too liberal, or too conservative, or out of touch with everyday folks, or any of another thousand imagined sins, they're bending my ear with tales of how our reporting staff is biased, or hiding the truth, or whatever.

It's pretty easy to simply dismiss those kinds of annoyances, which for the most part are groundless accusations more reflective of the complainer's bias than any bias on the part of the newspaper.

I lump Erick into the category of "those kinds of annoyances," although maybe I should start paying a bit more attention to what he's saying.

Oh, and Jay -- just so you'll know, radio talk shows and much of Fox News are hardly serious news and commentary. Having a place on the spectrum isn't the same as being a valued component of the media.

Jim Thompson

Some Other Mike said...


He's not called on it because everyone with even a slight acquaintance with his musings and with Peach Pundit already recognizes it all as "crap."


...with the problem being the reporting of such "crap" to the general public as some variant of "not crap".

...and with such a false premise established, Erickson (and by extension, his faction) gain from both sides of what amounts to contextual doublespeak.

Anonymous said...

OK, maybe I should have said "recognizes it generally as crap."

There may, on occasion, be some nuggets of worthwhile and well-reported information on Peach Pundit. But -- recognizing here I can't speak for other journalists -- I'd not rely on Peach Pundit as a sole source for anything I might pass along to my reading public.

jay said...

well regardless of what your definition of what is serious and not serious is, or whether you like ericks style or political leanings, red state is essentially the conservative version of dailykos, he oftens practices punditry on national tv, gets invited to pow wows w/ senators and vice presidents, and is an elected official--so he must be taken at least marginally seriously by someone...

Joeventures said...

Someone, not me.

DeKalb Officers said...

We're rather proud of ourselves! Even though we're not "reporters".

Anonymous said...

Shoot, Jay, even I take Erick "marginally seriously."

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

One day Imma gonna get some video of Suzanna Capeluto reading Peach Pundit and put it on YouTube.

Grayson: Atlanta, GA said...

Let's review some of the sentiments that have gone before you: "You're More Dangerous Than J.B. Stoner. Homophobic Cheese Dick." The MP3:
http://bit.ly/6A2MXW

Anonymous said...

@sara

Did you ever see my post in PeachPundit? I lifted most of it from YOUR blog, just after Glenn started swirling toward the bottom of the bowl on December 4th:

http://www.peachpundit.com/2009/12/04/your-worst-nightmare/

I don't have ANY affiliation with PP, nor am I a political consultant, etc. I like to assimilate a wide variety of ideas, some of which I feel closer to than others.

My method is like putting my butt on a cold bath tile in the summer, feels good after the shock wears off.

Plus, y'all are probably a hoot to drink with!

B Balz

Anonymous said...

"Jim Galloway (and others to a lesser extent) provides him legitimacy when he says things like "this should be taken seriously". "

An old fight here but...it wasn't so much giving Erick credibility with that statement. Erick wasn't the one to start the rumor and (IIRC), the site first came to me in an email. Now, is it better to say, hey, there was an email circulating with a link to this site (which no one could read because...well its an email), or at least link to someone else who was publishing the story (which was what Galloway what should have been taken "seriously" not the linker). Won't get into if it should or should not have been taken seriously (although I'm willing to think that you never would have thought it should be for a variety of reasons, chiefly being it is giving you bullying point), but the point is, it was the story, not the person who was to be taken seriously.

Wow that made no sense.

Pokerista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

Oops, wrong account.

I did see it, mostly because of the sudden spike in my traffic (and saw someone asking if I was sexy...gotta love how the PP boys play with a girl poster). Thanks for the recognition, even if I am a little wary of attention.

And we are most definitely a hoot to drink with.

Anonymous said...

BTW: who is Jane Kiddman?