Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More on Herald Blogs or Moron Herald Blogs?

You decide.

In my earlier post today I discussed what I think is "wrong" with Oscar Corral's blog. I was speaking to a friend about it and he suggested what I suspected. That Herald reporters are not supposed to opine on their blogs. Which to me defeats the purpose of a blog. Blogs aren't just for aggregating news of interest to a particular group, that's what newsgroups are for, they are for news analysis.

So I began to wonder what purpose these Herald blogs that are popping up daily is. Are they simply a promotional tool for the Herald and herald.com?

I decided to see if I could find any blog guidelines or FAQs on herald.com and I noticed that Andres Oppenheimer has a new blog as of today. I know I'll be checking that blog daily.

Now Oppenheimer is a columnist so I suspect that guidelines for him might be different than those for Oscar Corral who is a reporter. But Matt Pinzur, the Herald's education writer has a blog now too and he seems to inject much more of his personal thinking into his blog posts. Take a look and let me know if I'm right about this. Also consider that Greg Cote has a blog in which inserts his personal opinion. Like Oppenheimer he's a columnist but he also writes news items.

It seems that Oscar Corral's "arm's length" approach is a personal choice rather than a rule set by his employer. He either doesn't get it or doesn't care. Perhaps his blog only exists to pay lipservice to Tom Fiedler's memorandum about the importance of the Internet to the Herald's future.


Marc said...

I really don't have a dog in this fight. I'm a big believer in bloggers having the freedom to do with their blogs whatever they want. I would rather challenge their views than quibble with whatever editorial policies they might have.

For what it's worth, Corral is probably operating a leash controlled by his bosses. News reporters have to be very careful and not give off any signals that might suggest a bias. Otherwise, they are toast. The perception is just as important as the reality.

That said, I wonder how many people read Corral's blog. He has a link to my site, which I appreciate, but I have not detected an uptick in my traffic because of it. Sure, I'm not as popular as Babalu and others, but I would think I would have more traffic via a Web site controlled by a large newspaper.

Matthew I. Pinzur said...

Many thanks for the mention and the link. Our education blog is pretty new - just a few weeks now - so I'm still trying to set the right tone. I've tried to be careful to provide some analysis without inserting my opinion. I don't think that line is always entirely clear, but I try to think of it this way: as a reporter, I don't think it's OK to say I like a certain idea or oppose a particular plan. But I do think it's OK to point out background or other information that helps shine light on the motives or context behind an issue. For example, I've written often about the political risks that School Board members will face when voting about Vamos A Cuba, the controversial children's book, and about why certain board members are more likely to vote a certain way. But I would never opine on whether I think the book should be kept or removed.

I'm really happy to see this discussion taking place, though, because it's new territory for the Herald (and most newspapers), and the perspectives of thoughtful people will help us find our way.

None E. Moose said...


I think Matt has it right, with a few qualifications. While local school board politics and education policy are important (much more important, dare I say, on the day-to-day progress of tis or any community, than what is essentially a foreign policy matter), the subject matter taken up by Oscar's MCC is of a much more emotional character. Given that, I think that in order to achieve what I presume would be Matt's goal-- the input and exchange of others in the community-- a more delicate handling is necessary, in terms of how and in what way the topics are presented for discussion. I believe they have to be presented without Oscar's input because otherwise, the debate becomes about Oscar's political view (and by extension the Herald's) and moves away from the presumed goal of public exchange of ideas, and yes, disagreement about them. I will join you in wishing (gee, wouldn't it be nice) that Oscar put more of himself into the posts. But I honestly feel it would detract from the possibilities.

You and I have both been on MCC, so I readily admit that it devolves into ad hominems, probably too frequently. But let me posit this: If arguments at that level of emotion/virulence took place live and in color, there would be blood somehwere it shouldn't be. I think this more detached outlet actually serves a purpose there. Eventually, regulars will drop the vitriol and get down to the business of sharing ideas, in civil debate. At this stage, I will readily admit, the collective psyche of the MCC is still a bit raw. The only way it changes is if smart people continue to contribute, despite the less than sanitary conditions.

Lastly, I will make a suggestion which I have made before. Let's come up with a name for what MCC is. The only point where you and I disagree on that matter is this. I feel, with all due respect, that the focus of your criticism of MCC is that it is not a blog for many reasons. I agree. But so what? OK, it's not a blog, but bomb-throwers aside, I think you can agree that there are some who post there that have legitimate, though sometimes differing, opinions (not me, btw, I'm only there for the food fights, but I have issues...).

I can fully understand the natural inclination towards confort zones, and that everybody deals with discomfort differently, some even improperly. But this I will tell you, personally (because I've read your posts), it takes peole like you, putting aside the natural rancor of confronting those you vehemently disagree with, to lead the debate forward. It's at the very point where you've decided to walk away that you need to turn around the most. You lead by example, not by the number of f-bombs you drop.