Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Too little, too late, too liberal

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:56 AM |  

Were I a clever MSM columnist with no sense of self awareness, I might come up with a clever nickname rivaling "Captain Fishsticks." Alas, I am but a "hobby journalist" cursed with a modicum of pride.

City Pages writer and blogger Paul Demko brings too little to late to Hugh Hewitt’s apparently aborted attempt to organize a “Swarm the Strib to Reform the Strib” blog to police the paper’s liberal bias. Most Minnesota bloggers are unexcited by Hewitt’s idea if not outright hostile too it.

Demko’s article on the City Pages Web site [funny hat tip to "Mrs. Paul -- it's not what you know but whom you sleep with] restates many of the feelings I posted and that I’ve heard from other bloggers that are rightly critical of “Swarm the Strib” idea. But he also is a case in point of the liberal bias in the media in that he a) makes no mention of the conservative blogosphere rejection of the Hewitt idea and b) he struggles to spin comments by James Lileks in the worst possible light --
The "Backfence" author isn't completely dismissive of the proposed Strib watchdog website, however. "If people go into this with the assumption that the Star Tribune is trying to manipulate information according to our daily instructions from Lenin's brain, they're going to look like fools," he says. "The issue of bias in journalism is a little more complex than that."

So does Lileks believe that his newspaper skews news to the left? "Do I think that people are writing from the DFL playbook? No," he says. "But people bring biases to this business and it affects sometimes how they frame issues."
I addressed the following email to Demko --

Paul --

I saw where you list my blog on your blogroll, so I'm guessing you read it. But in case you missed it, below is a post from my site regarding Hugh Hewitt's proposal, which I agree was a bad idea. A few additional comments.

When I posted my comments, I thought I might be a lone voice in the Minnesota blogosphere. I gave myself far too much credit. That has not been the case. The Northern Alliance of blogs, while still individually critical of specific aspects of the Start Tribune, have not jumped on board with Hewitt's proposal and were frankly critical of it. From the comments I've received, with but a few exceptions, Minnesota bloggers have rejected Hewitt's call for organized action. To my knowledge, he hasn't mentioned it again on his radio show or posted about it, although I admit I am not a regular listener or reader.

In fairness, I think your article should have mentioned that while individually critical of the Star Tribune, the blogger community in Minnesota as a whole has rejected the tactic of digitally shouting down the opposition.

Craig Westover

UPDATE: In an email Paul Demko makes the point, which I did overlook in my post, that he tried to contact Hewitt for comment, but his attempt was not returned. He notes --

I would suggest the reason it [Hewitt's idea] has not been embraced (if that's the case) is because it would force people to actually put their money where their mouths are. It's much easier to fume about what a liberal rag the Strib is than to actually point out instances in which liberal bias permeates the Strib's news reporting.
No, Paul, I think it was a matter of principle. I think the blogs are generally pretty specific when criticizing the Star Tribune coverage individually. I think his bias is showing. Conservatives are not afraid to question their own on matters of principle.

Demko believes that quoting Gyllenhaal and Lileks and attempting (unsuccessfully) to get some form of comment from Hewitt and Doug Tice and Kate Parry was reasonable due dilligence on his part.

I'd say he covered his bases, but probably missed some others. With his perception of the blogosphere's reverence for Hugh, I might have contacted some NARN blogs for response before assuming that reverence always equates to drinking the Koolaid.

UPDATE: Bogus Gold posts a list of bloggers' responses to Hugh's idea as evidence it was rejected on principle. (In an email to me, Demko noted Margaret's Our House response as "lukewarm.")