We’ve got a new Think Again column called “Chiller, Socialist Theater,”about how Obama’s turning us Commie, here and my new Nation column is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of William Appleman Williams’ Tragedy of American Diplomacy, here.Also, I did an analysis of Bibi Netanyahu’s bait-and-switch speech forthe Daily Beast here.
I was genuinely shocked by Howard Kurtz’s defense of CNN in a Post chat, not only because of its incredible lameness, but also because Kurtz did not disclose the fact of his being on CNN’s payroll. I wrote a short note to Romenesko’s letters column, which he printed,but did not make notice of on the site, so I sent a slightly different version of it to Andy Alexander, who recently became the Washington Post‘s ombudsman. I have to say, I’m impressed with his response, which you can find here. What I like about it is not only that it holds Kurtz accountable, (and is generally friendly to me), but because it raises the larger issue of the Post‘s unwillingness to disclose its conflict-of-interest policies. This is quite important, and goes to the heart of why large news organizations are losing the trust of readers, etc. But these organizations need to keep their options open to retain their big shots who don’t like to follow the rules and so they don’t want to codify their policies. (See under “Friedman, Thomas.”) Alexander explains that the Post policy is underreview, which is to the good, but let’s see if and when they publish it. He writes:
Readers such as Alterman are entitled to know the standards to which The Post holds itself. In a column several months ago, I wrote:The Post keeps its journalistic policies largely hidden, making it virtually impossible for readers to know the paper’s ethical andjournalistic standards. The public should be able to easily access them online. It’s not merely right but also smart to be transparent at a time when The Post is trying to hold on to readers.
The column also noted that The Post urgently needs to update its ethical guidelines to accommodate the new age of online journalism. Kurtz’ failure to disclose his CNN ties in an online chat, while hardly a major transgression, underscores that.
New standards must be written to cover not only conflict of interestdisclosures online, but everything from how corrections should behandled on the Web, to verification of reader-generated content, toauthentication of links, to ethical rules governing the content thatPost employees may submit to social networking sites.