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L.A. Times pulls Journalist’s Blog

Exploring Professional Ethics Again:

The Los Angeles Times has suspended the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzik who posed as an Internet reader under a pseudonym to defend his own column and attack his conservative foes.

The Times apparently learned of Hiltzik’s multiple personalities (online) from blogger Patrick Frey, who was slammed by the columnist under a pen name. Frey, author of a blog called Patterico’s Pontifications traced the writer back to Hiltzik’s computer.

“Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s Web site, and on other Web sites, under names other than his own,” the Times said in a statement.

“That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves in dealing with the public.”

Don’t get me wrong, because I’m not trying to justify anyone. Making up fictional characters in support of your own opinions may be carrying anonymity to its nth degree.

BUT in its most conventional sense, isn’t that what bloggers and internet users do? I mean, haven’t most of us used some sort of internet persona? Come on, be honest.

I personally use the pen pal ‘Blog Bloke’, and I allow anonymous commentors because I’m a firm believer in everyone’s right to privacy. A sort of speaking ‘off the record’ (so to speak).

As a blogger, I admittedly find myself generally on the side of bloggers when it comes to turf wars with the mainstream media. But this time around I’m reconsidering that notion.

Given that serious bloggers are more and more merging with our journalist cousins, shouldn’t we all be playing on the same field — and with the same rule book? Is it fair that journalists are not afforded same the luxury of anonymity that we bloggers enjoy?

So what’s the answer? Should serious bloggers aspire to the same professional expectations that journalists do?

Or should journalists’ ethics be loosened up a little when it comes to the internet?

It’s a dilemma that I’m going to have to give serious consideration.


Related links: instabloke, blog, weblog, blogging, writing, write, computers and internet, video, media, opinion, journalism, la times, journalist, michael hiltzik, online communications

Written April 22nd, 2006 by | 2 Comments | Filed under: Miscellaneous Blog Tips

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There are 2 Comments so far to “L.A. Times pulls Journalist’s Blog”

  1. I agree with you that journalists should have the right to post anonymous comments. (Apparently the LAT disagrees.) But using multiple pseudonyms as shills for your real self, and praising said pseudonyms for their arguments — that is not something all bloggers do. Or even most.

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  2. No argument here except to add that I did not say ALL bloggers do. But I would qualify that by also saying those who participate the most in commenting, bulletin boards, forums etc. do in fact use an internet persona of some sort. Even if it just not divulging your entire given name, it is still hiding under anonymity to a certain extent.

    In most cases it would only be celebs or those who are trying to establish a name for themselves that would gain from using their real names. Otherwise from a privacy / security point of view I would say that it is foolish to use your real name on the internet and I would caution anyone from doing so.

    Thanks for the comment and dropping by.

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