Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Tortillas Moment

As co-owner Charlie Kerns explains: "The burrito war has been fought and won. We didn't win it."

Kerns says that while Tortillas still does enough business to remain open indefinitely, he wanted to retire his labor of love before it slips too far into decline.

"Sometimes things look better in the rear-view mirror," he says.

~Creative Loafing, April 23, 2003

Photo courtesy of Bell Street Burritos, who shows there is still some goodness in the world

In Which I Hate On Everyone

My dreams are all dead and buried
Sometimes I wish the world would just explode
When God comes and calls me to his kingdom
I'll take all you sonsabitches when I go
~Billy Joe Shaver

It is time to assess.

The Blogs - Let us take a look around the landscape.

Despite allegations of taking the occasional cash handshake to write positive stories, despite having to issue a retraction for a story practically invented out of thin air, Andre Walker continues to be referenced by media, enjoys privileges at one of the largest national Democratic blogs and continues to spin his stories of Democratic Party of Georgia goings-on. And he is "taken seriously" because of his "insider status". So much for consequences.

If you want rumor mongering and ego mania, look no further than Peach Pundit. It has always been the place for juicy tidbits and Erick Erickson's personal witch hunts, but with the Republican scandals of last fall, they felt the need to step it up a bit. Erick all but provided the gory details of the most famous rumor in Georgia Politics, then spent several days squealing about love children and opening the sewer pipes to allow every green apple splat squishing around the marble halls to spew forth. Privately, some journalists admonished bloggers about "editorial choices", but publicly, their publications continued to direct readers to Erick's filthy playpen and tell them to take it "seriously". So much for standards.

Of course, there are always those who would stand at the vanguard of the garbage wave. As Georgia Liberal did when it tut tutted the new cooperative of media services in the state. They digitally wagged their fingers at the stodgy journalists of the Athens Banner-Herald for not understanding doom was inevitable. Then, promptly went back to re-publishing someone else's copyrighted cartoons. So much for self-awareness.

Then, there's Jeff Sexton of SWGAPolitics. Not satisfied with accusing a sitting Constitutional officer of running a criminal enterprise, Jeff set his sights on another target. And we must give credit where credit is due, he broke the biggest story ever uncovered by a Georgia blog. If only the story stopped there. He proceeded to come as close to libel as any blog ever by calling someone a "child molestor" and quoting a section of law which did not apply. But it's hard to stop a steam train of ego. When told of his mistake, he refused to correct the blatantly false statement. Later, when asked why he hadn't given the accused a chance to respond, he replied "I don't play fair with child molestors". So much for fairness.

Over two years ago, the Athens Banner-Herald's Blake Aued said,
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
He should be a prophet.

The Press - For almost three years, we begged them to link to us. We were told we were rumor mongers. We were told we didn't have editorial standards. We were told we couldn't be trusted. We were told we were "entertainers".

But that dam was never going to last forever. And what happened when the deluge finally settled onto the land? The turds floated to the top.

Start with a reporter linking to a story without taking the time to research if the author has any history of legitmacy, continue swimming through the sewage by linking to every rumor to swirl out of an "insider" site and culminate by being accomplices in a political stunt that three years ago would have barely mentioned a whisper.

Leave it to Peach Pundit to take a he said/she said story about a candidate throwing a tantrum over being excluded from a cocktail hour, declaratively state that it was really racism, then stand back and see who willingly runs into the shit bomb. (By the way boys, how many bought drinks are required at one of your little soirees to get that kind of good consulting?)

Of course, it was our new friends in the media who immediately sprinted towards the fire without pausing to notice the dirty diaper underneath. By the end of the sordid affair, Miss Political Stunt had four days of positive free press.

Welcome to the year of jubilee. They link to us. Well, they link to some while ignoring others. All depends on who's tidbits are the juiciest and reality be damned.

In other words, they act just like bloggers.

The Quotes -
Look, I’m not blind to the yeoman’s work done by a handful of “citizen journalists.” But can anyone provide me examples of a major local story that was broken by a blogger — one with no previous journalistic experience? ~ATLMalcontent, March 15, 2009

It is up to each blog to determine its standards for publication. ~griftdrift, July 30, 2008
We were both right. We were both wrong. So be it.

The Best Of The Drifts - Why Facts No Longer Matter

Originally published Dec 21, 2009 (I highly encourage you to click through because the comments are much more interesting than the original essay)

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?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Political Roux

Originally published December 3, 2009

The Politics Of Rue

To make a proper roux, you need two things - lots of stirring and lots of heat. Much care must be given to this frantic combination lest you get burned by the spatter.

The slow simmer for Georgia Republicans began three weeks ago with the suicide attempt of Speaker Glenn Richardson. All seemed to reset as political types of all stripe gracefully uttered words of sympathy and understanding. Richardson emerged from the dark cloud and even began making public appearances. To the political junkies, the episode surely appeared odd but without much legs.

Then along came Susan.

The Speaker's ex-wife kept her silence for three years. Then, for reasons not fully explained, she clinically laid out to WAGA's Dale Russell her perspective of years of bullying, manipulation and infidelity. And she had a paper trail. The former Mrs. Richardson possessed text messages where the Speaker threatened to bring down johnny law on her head and emails detailing a torrid of an affair with a former employee of Atlanta Gas & Light.

We all hear rumors and tales of rutting and ruination from the gold dome. They blister out of those hallowed halls like a cold sore outbreak at the prom. They make great fodder for booze soaked conversations between insiders but as a wizened beat reporter once said, "it's there but we ain't never gonna nail it down".

The explosive nature of the Richardson affair with its witness willing to discuss the madness while showering the media with physical evidence has everyone wondering if a game change is afoot. Rumors of unique methods of adjusting certain pieces of apparel and of the one that lives over in that part of town and the one that is kept a couple of hundred miles out of town are now mentioned openly.

As the heat continues to rise, the ones watching the pot are stirring as fast as they can. And the ones who fear the boil and burn are frantically dodging and ducking the stick of the spit and spatter of the rue.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Fairness In Blogging

Originally published November 18, 2009

A Point Of View But Fair

A point of view but fair. It could be the organically evolved creed of this three year exploration of citizen journalism.

Long have I held the view that media as a whole is shackled by the unattainable goal of "objective reporting". (Having said that, before the furies of old world media descend, there is still a need for objective journalism, but it is part of the equation, not the whole.) The concept is now warped by 24-hour news cycles with powers-that-be seeking the modern day version of a live apartment fire. Readers and viewers, with some arrogance, spout the endless mantra of "just report the facts and let us decide" then scurry as quickly as possible to the latest report of a blonde girl snatched up by a crazed fanatic who force acts of debasement found only in the deepest recesses of the psychotic soul. We bathe ourselves in filth, then complain the news givers never provide cleansing water.

Objective reporting has its place but so does non-objective reporting and how we deal with the consequences of injecting the first person will determine if the form can be elevated or is relegated to an eternal mud wrestle with the Nancy Graces.

In my own world of first person reporting, I certainly do not hide my perspective but in order to maintain fairness, I've stood by three basic rules:

1. Research
2. Quote accurately
3. Give the other side a chance to respond

To the professional journalist, these are as familiar as shoes and socks. In our world, we still have a ways to go.

Monday, the admittedly biased Atlanta Progressive News released a "story" with "community reaction" to its previous story which reported mayoral candidate Kasim Reed's work as an attorney with Holland & Knight defending Cracker Barrel in a wage dispute case. APN noted Cracker Barrel's previous history of involvement in racial discrimination cases and noted the NAACP filed an amicus brief in the wage case. The tenuous connections of race to a non-racial issue caused lawyer blogger Going Through The Motions to brutally dissect APN's research and assertions.

APN's Matthew Cardinale defends his piece claiming that "we made it very clear that the Cracker Barrel case had to do with a wage dispute". He also noted the article clearly points to a separate race discrimination case. Although, he never clearly states it, Cardinale clearly claims the article was fair.

But was it? Let's apply my three rules.

1. Research - Shoddy at best. Obfuscating at worse. After giving great detail in the wage case, including the arguably irrelevant facts of Cracker Barrel's history of involvement in racial discrimination cases and the involvement of the NAACP, Cardinale points to a single case of alledged racial discrimination against a real estate firm. No details on the allegations or the conclusion. In the follow up article, once again quotes regarding Cracker Barrel are extensive, but no specifics about the second case. Perhaps, because there were no specifics.

2. Quote accurately - The whole of the quotes are in the follow up community reaction piece. We assume they are accurate since no one disputes them. Which leads us to...

3. When confronted with the lack of response from the Reed camp, Cardinale stated, "I've been doing this (APN) now for 4 years and usually have a good idea of when a PR department is going to respond, and when they aren't. So, I just didn't want to waste my time, nor my readers' time." Zero effort was made at giving the other side an opportunity to respond.

You might give a pass on the first - although it can certainly be viewed as selective research used to color the sky a particular shade of blue. There isn't much problem with the second. But the third - that sin is so dire it should never pass. A commenter claiming to be a journalist laid out the real world consequences of such a transgression, "I'd more than likely be fired. Maybe if I'm lucky I'd just be docked a week's pay".

I'm not bold enough to say my rules should apply to all. To each their own and let the readers decide what to believe and what is fair.

But if you can't follow these basic rules, then you should never get close to using the "j" word. And you're really quite a peacock if you attach some hopped up, unearned title like "News Editor" to your name.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - The Eagle Raid

Originally published September 14, 2009

Why The Eagle Raid Matters

It should matter because our Founders graced us with the Fourth Amendment.

It should matter because it exemplifies the ongoing struggle in Midtown between neighborhoods and businesses they deem unacceptable.

It should matter because the public perceives crime as out of control, yet, 8 people sat in jail for what amounted to dancing in their drawers.

But it really matters because it is yet another case of Atlanta picking at its own scab of uncertainty and disillusionment in troubled times.

Today, the FBI released crime statistics which seem to support Police Chief Richard Pennington's stance that crime is down in the city. Yet, these facts do not allay the fears of people living East Atlanta, Downtown and Southwest. Jim Walls continued investigation on the crime numbers lends credence to that worry. Although, crime may be down citywide, pockets of violence and burglary are on the rise and the stunning murder of The Standard's John Henderson, an assault on a Ormewood Park man cutting his grass and the string of shootings and robberies around the campuses of Clark-Atlanta University and Georgia Tech leave Atlantans shaking their head at the cold numbers the powers-that-be wave at the cameras.

If Atlanta is in trouble, like so many things with this transitional city, it is difficult to grasp exactly why. Unlike a Detroit, we do not have a housing market which reflects the third world and an inner core which rots before our very eyes.

Instead we have a myriad of problems which combine to make the greater less tenable.

Our police force is undersized and underfunded. Our guardian of truth, the flagship newspaper, is struggling to survive and its cracks caused by cuts are starting to show (note how many times a crime story appears with the same byline). Our public transit routinely begs to any public agency who will listen. Our public hospital, once again, had to walk hat in hand to the Fulton County Commission to plead for a few more months survival.

In times where the citizens are scared and no longer trust their government to provide protection, the last thing our beleaguered police force needs is tasks such as rousting a few gay men for flaunting their tighty whiteys behind closed doors.

The Eagle raid matters because it is as highly ideal as the U.S. Constitution and it is as personal as the people who suffered from imprisonment, but it's also about the character of this city - so famous for rising from its ashes. We are the city too busy too hate, the door to the world, welcome to all and embracing of all. Except last Thursday night when we were not. And it is these missteps which cannot, must not, happen again. For each one takes us back, closer to the ashes and the foul taste they will leave in every mouth.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Origins of the AJC/ Peach Pundit Spit Swap

Originally published August 19, 2009 (Note: clicking through to the original is worthwhile as the comments were extensive)

Prolific Pete, Peach Pundet and Pandering

Prolific Pete is back at Peach Pundit and not much has changed.

Pete notes that the "tipline" (i.e. Peach Pundit's "cover" to publish any wild ramblings of anonymous emailers) reported a new website aimed at drafting Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Jane Kidd for the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
...the tipline brings news of a website to draft Jane Vandiver Kidd, Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, to run in the upcoming U.S. Senate race against fellow liberal Johnny Isakson.
Of course it's Peach Pundit, so it must be noteworthy. AJC top political gun Jim Galloway picks up the story and adds this gem.
Take this seriously. As was the case in 2006, Democrats are extremely worried that a less-than-stellar candidate will jump in and win the top spot on the party’s ticket.
And if anyone had taken five minutes to call Kidd, as Athens Banner Herald's Blake Aued did, they would have discovered the entire story was pure fantasyland.

For years, I've argued blogs could be more than rumor and innuendo mills.

Maybe I was wrong.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Hank Johnson's Town Hall

Originally published August 11, 2009

Town Hall Twist And Shout

We rarely boo at baseball games. Our calls to talk radio, although at times tinged with anger, are generally polite. To outsiders, it must appear difficult to stir Atlantans into a froth.

However, given the recent history of the so-called health care town halls across the land, there was some trepidation as people filed into the Cole Auditorium at Georgia Perimeter College's Central Campus on Monday night. 4th District Congressman Hank Johnson was hosting his first town hall and many showed up to see the fireworks.

Perhaps it was the heavy police presence. Perhaps it was the constant attention of the volunteers. Perhaps it was the very structured nature (including a reading of the rules and the Pledge of Allegiance) of the event. Perhaps it was all of these which calmed the divided crowd.

Or perhaps it was a slick politician with a speaking tone the equivalent of vocal valium.

Dekalb Commissioner Larry Johnson moderated and both he and Congressman Johnson asked the crowd to show the rest of the country that the south and Dekalb County was known for its ability to be polite in disagreement. For the most part, they succeeded, although as the rhetoric heated up, there were a few flareups and three people were escorted out for shouting from the audience. Commissioner Johnson joked about the first day of school and how the crowd had "failed the first test" bringing subdued chuckles from both sides of the aisle.

But perhaps Johnson's cleverest tactic was his panel. Instead of a town hall where a politician stood upon a holy rock and preached, the Congressman presented a panel of seven medical professionals with positions as diverse as the CEO of Grady advocating national health care to Dr. Troy Williamson of the Medical Association of Georgia flat out stating any public option was unacceptable. The ricocheting opinions had portions of the crowd switching from boos to cheers with whiplash speed. When one panelist advocated "personal responsibility", the applause was near universal.

The lack of radicalness proved a foil to the expected craziness and the only incident which drew attention from the stage was during the audience participation portion when a young man shouted a question from his seat. Outside the town hall, Sean Mangieri of Atlanta, the first person escorted out, said he expected to be thrown out for breaking the rules but felt it was necessary because it was "not a legitimate debate". Mangierie was quick to point out he was not there representing anyone but himself.

Perhaps the relatively subdued mood of the town hall was summarized best by former 10th District Republican candidate Bill Greene who attended because he felt it would be interesting. Greene said although he disagreed with Congressman Johnson's positions, he was "impressed by the diversity of the panel" and noted this is not the first time Johnson has reached out to unexpected allies. In 2009, the liberal Democrat Johnson co-sponsored libertarian Republican Ron Paul's bill to audit the U.S. government.

How To Create A Feedback Loop

How to create a feedback loop in 4 easy steps:

1. Have one of your contributors repeat a spurious claim by a candidate

2. When an outside entity shows how easy it is to get the other side of the story, have another contributor respond that it's "lame" without ever addressing the original claim.

3. Reprint the original candidates response, only this one isn't "lame", instead it is the "truth".

4. When questioned about the entire episode, have another contributor claim they are just reporting the "news, despite the fact that the entire episode was generated by them.

Welcome to epistemic closure - Georgia style.

UPDATE: And of course the AJC picks up the story. And manages to make the candidate look positive. Welcome to the new world. Ain't it grand?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Constablegate: The Final Note

Originally published August 10, 2009

A Final Note On ConstableGate

The first piece I wrote about Kyle Constable/John Oxendine was pretty much straight up news. The second piece was more my first person journalism style. This final note will be pure opinion.

Having spoken both on and off the record to the Oxendine campaign and to Kyle, here is my bottom line take on the situation: The campaign acted very stupidly by engaging with a minor, but unlike some have recently said, I believe their intentions were innocent.

The reason I tied my piece to the ethics of blogging was not to pick on a 15 year old who may or may not have the knowledge and experience to understand the consequences of his actions. However, his actions are another episode in the never ending fight about how journalists, campaigns and bloggers interact and how closely do bloggers follow traditional reporting rules and that's a subject I feel compelled to note.

There are some out there who talk both ways about what on the record means and what verification means and they are not minors (at least one of these adults I believe had an influence on Kyle and his subsequent actions). However, since they were only tangentially related to this story, I felt the focus had to be Kyle and his actions.

But take it from someone who recognizes that these types of murky ethics will lead to another cycle of recriminations from traditional media, we know who you are, so does the public and it doesn't matter how many page views or hits you rack up, your reputation is in your hands.

And in this business that's all that really matters.

The Best Of The Drifts - Constablegate: The Analysis

Originally published August 10, 2009

Dealing With The Devil

Jon Flack once said, "I'm not sure how to deal with these journalistic bloggers". Two years later, the struggle to define this murky relationship has moved to the campaign trail.

"We need to ask questions to bloggers to determine if they are writing as an activist or whether they are acting as a journalist so we can deal with them accordingly. We want to treat journalistic bloggers the exact same way we treat reporters" stated Republican candidate for Governor John Oxendine's Campaign Manager Tim Echols.

Echols was responding to last week's incident where teenage Lee County blogger Kyle Constable accused Oxendine campaign staff of "bullying" him.

On Friday, Constable published on his blog the details of a private conversation involving Oxendine consultants Gabe Winslow and Jeff Breedlove. Although he admits the conversation was off the record, Constable says the staffers were "rude" and "disrespectful" and he felt justified in breaking the veil of off the record because "it was something that needed to be published and knew that the people of Georgia were going to know the truth about what the Oxendine campaign does."

What followed was a blog storm which raged from the mountains to the coastal plains.

The easy story was a major gubenatorial campaign picking on a kid. The deeper rumbling was an onion peel of ethics in blogging and campaigning.

Blogs in the state of Georgia range from the openly partisan activists at Blog For Democracy to the more opaque Peach Pundit to fiercely non-partisan Drifting Through The Grift. Throw in professional journalist blogs like Fresh Loaf and Political Insider and you have a mish mash of purposes and standards possibly leaving readers confused about purposes and truths.

Constable found himself waste deep in the muck. He admits he was a "grassroots volunteer" for Oxendine but also expressed a desire to pursue journalism in the future. The conflict between these two very different trades erupted when he felt compelled to comment on his perception that a campaign tactic used by Oxendine was nothing more than a bait and switch effort to acquire email addresses. It was this posting which led to the now infamous conversation with Breedlove and Winslow.

Although the details of that conversation are lost to time and as is usually the case, both sides claim wildly differing perspectives, the result is not in dispute. Constable detailed the conversation and the Oxendine campaign found itself suddenly having to respond to stories that it was bullying teenagers. Not an activity any campaign desires.

Reporting an off the record conversation is the nuclear option for any journalist or any aspiring journalist. Every story is a deal with the devil. The journalist or the journalistic blogger is trying to get a story and every campaign is trying to get their story out. Both sides are being used, but both sides understand they are being used. There are rules to this game and as long as both sides stick to those rules, everyone's goals can be accomplished with fairness and at least a degree of honesty readers find acceptable.

Off the record conversations are critical tools in the deal and have the most defined rule set. Their primary purpose is to give a writer context around an event. Simply put, they are the check on whether a story is true or not. Although a campaign staffer will provide a gin-upped pablum of platitudes on the record, it is off the record where they will tell you if you're even on the right trail. Many a reporter has been saved by someone saying "I can't tell you officially, but you're getting this one wrong".

Although the professional standards may vary slightly, the rule regarding off the record conversations is simple - you don't report them. Most don't even hint about them. They are proximity bombs and the closer you get, the more likely they are to go off in your face. Professional journalists understand playing fast and loose in this arena can cost a career. For the non-professional bloggers, doors pried open a mere crack may slam shut relegating a voice to a lonely island of despair surrounded by an ocean of distrust.

Though his actions might be excused due to youth and inexperience, Constable is already tasting the consequences. Following a strong public rebuke from the Georgia Teen Republicans (Constable is Treasurer of the organization), today, he shut his blog down and although he will not admit to being pressured into this action, he does state, "
I know that by shutting down my blog not only can I continue to make a difference to the people around me where I'm planted, I may be able to re-unify the [Georgia Teen Republican] Executive Board so that we, as a whole, can really start to make a difference in the state."

Time will tell, if this episode will linger around the Oxendine campaign or their young former supporter, but all should note the eternal lesson - if you yank on the devil's tail too hard, you will get burned.

The Best Of The Drifts - Constablegate: The Straight Story

Originally published August 7, 2009

The Candidate And The Kid

Only those who work deep in the trenches of the hideous world of politics likely care, but there was a small flareup today when 15 year old Lee County blogger Kyle Constable claimed he was "bullied" by officials from the John Oxendine campaign after writing a piece questioning the legitimacy of the Oxendine ancillary website

Constable fueled the fire further by publishing details from what he admits was an "off the record" conversation with the campaign.

Prior to today's events Constable was a supporter of Oxendine and used his website to praise the candidate.

John Oxendine Campaign Manager Tim Echols believes this episode resulted from a misunderstanding between Constable and his staff and stated to Drifting Through The Grift, "We value the involvement of teenagers in this campaign. It is important that we work with them and their parents to determine the best role for them to play."

In the dog days of August, political campaigns tend to stall and all those who travel that strange road will search for any rest stop to quench the thirst for political spirits. Merely the idea of a gubernatorial campaign fueding with a teenager stirred the Georgia political blogosphere into a frenzy. However, once the dust settles, the conversation of the role of bloggers in politics and the ethical dilemmas encountered will likely continue.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - Galloway and Peach Pundit

Originally published on July 23, 2009

Ahem, Mr. Galloway

I'm going to attempt to avoid profanity but it will be difficult.
Blogging is the new journalism, we’re told. And so all bloggers are journalists, right? Not really. ~AJC's Political Insider Jim Galloway
No kidding.

Let's get the karmic band-aid out of the way first. Jim Galloway is one of the finest journalists in this town and if the AJC ever lost him, I doubt they would recover.


For over three years, there has been a conversation in this town about journalism, blogging, where the two meet and where they don't meet. As far as I know, Jim Galloway has never been a participant. The ignorance of his statement bears witness to this fact.

My only personal interaction with Jim was when I went to the Newt Gingrich love fest at the Galleria. I introduced myself and he complimented my writing which was very nice of him. He then told me I was too late, they'd already talked to the bloggers.

Because you see - a blogger wouldn't attend an event to get a story - one would only attend to be spoon fed whatever was covered in the "blogger meeting".

Let me share something with you, Jim. Blogging is not the new journalism. Journalism does occur on blogs, although getting some of your cohorts to admit this tiny fact is akin to convincing a flat-earther the moon landings really happened.

And lot's of other things occur on blogs. We come in many varieties, cover many topics and we'll even admit we have different levels of quality. You see, we're not this monolithic creature which vomits the same thing over and over. And every time I hear a newspaper person, the supposed guardians of the truth, use this easy fallacy, my respect for your industry slips a little further.

Now, about Erick Erickson.

Jim's ridiculous statement led to an analysis of Erick Erickson's latest ugliness which led to the pearl clutching discovery that not all bloggers are journalists and perhaps the state's largest blog, Peach Pundit, is not a transparent temple of the truth. Get out the fainting couch.

If Jim was going to pick a finer example to portray blogs as non-journalistic, I couldn't think of a better one.

After all, over the years Peach Pundit has:

  • Published a front page writer who failed to disclose his connections to campaigns and has published false stories. (By the way, Jim - Peach Pundit is the only Georgia blog I know where he wouldn't be booted on his ass immediately)
  • Published anonymous tips without any attempt at confirmation.
  • Been a vehicle for Erick's personal witch hunts. Witch hunts disguised as expose' but backed by evidence so thin, The National Enquirer would blanch.
  • Witch hunts which skate perilously close to libel.
  • And has generally chosen to use the worse characteristics of a political spin machine as its modus operandi.

Peach Pundit isn't a journalistic outfit? Tell us something we don't know.

Peach Pundit is a monument to ego (Jim, you should ask Erick about his rolodex - he's proud to brag it's bigger than John Oxendine's) which loves nothing more than to wallow in the mostly Republican mud but when called out, snouts up its few mealy-mouthed Democrat contributors (one who happens to be the aforementioned false reporting scoundrel) and squeal "Objectivity! Objectivity!"

But they are the cool kids, so of course the establishment runs to them for a good story. After all, they and the establishment slop at the same trough with the same obvious result emerging from the other end. Garbage in, garbage out.

Jim, just because Peach Pundit is the biggest and baddest doesn't mean they're the best. And just because they are the most popular doesn't mean the rest of us want to be just like them.

And you, Jim, are the best in the business at telling us things we don't know. Please, return to that rewarding venue and leave this isle of tropes far behind.