LaTourette-Wide Open Story on Poynter Institute Blog

Extensive coverage on the E-Media Tidbits blog at

Dubail confirmed that within about a week of Wide Open's launch, LaTourette's office complained about Coryell's inclusion in the blog to The Plain Dealer's editorial page editor. Said Dubail, "Of course, people make threats like this all the time. It's not uncommon for people to say 'I'm never going to talk to you again.' Any responsible news organization will check whether there's any truth in what those people say. But even if important people stop talking to us, that doesn't mean we stop covering them."

Dubail says he mentioned LaTourette's complaints to Coryell in September, but made no requests at that time. Then, on Oct. 16. The Plain Dealer published a campaign finance story that disclosed Coryell's contribution to LaTourette's current opponent.

"That's when [Plain Dealer editor] Susan Goldberg got concerned about how the paper would be received," said Dubail. "She worried about about having someone on the payroll -- even a freelancer -- who has taken sides in a partisan dispute. After some discussion, she indicated a strong belief that Dubail [sic, should be Coryell] needed to recuse himself from covering that race."

The author of the blog paid genuine attention to my attempt to exlain why a "no contributions" rule may be fine for reporters but makes no sense as a requirement for partisan political bloggers:

Coryell believes such retroactive policymaking is not only unethical and unfair, but -- at least in this case -- deeply misguided. "If you're going to have a rule about campaign contributions, have it at the outset and don't adopt it in response to a complaint," he said. "But it's a bad policy. I was specifically hired as a partisan, to argue my side. If you want partisans to blog, it's absurd to rule out campaign contributions. Conceptually it doesn't fit the situation.

"If you're going to hire political bloggers, it's important to understand the distinction between reporters and editors. Don't try to jam bloggers into the reporter model and make them obey reporters' rules. It's a bad fit."

There is no such thing as objecticity

If I hear about it again I shall scream.
I have 25 years and 5 daily newspaper experience. Newspapers are always partisan - they reflect the owners' corporate biases. Editorially they endorse candidates. Nowadays, media organs like Fox are openly partisan. Even in the old days papers like the Chicago Tribune (with Col. McCormick) were partisan. Its always been partisan. But when the newsroom became 'professionalized' (neutered) then reporters were expected to be 'objective' which is a tall order for any human being with passions and emotions. The paper's owners were always partisan but the writers had to be 'objective.' It was always and remains to this day, BS. So in Jeff's case we go from low to high hypocrisy. But the PD management could care less. They're the only game in town and they'll just circle the wagons until this blows over.

Jeff, this whole sordid episode angers me. Not just for you and Jill but for every person who believes in the freedom of expression as the lifeblood of our democracy. I never thought in a million years I'd say this but I'll say it now: if this incident is indicative of the future of print journalism than maybe it deserves to die. If print journalism cannot or will not engage and educate a public that desperately needs it but instead, pander, propagandize and sanitize, then it no longer serves a useful function in a democratic society.

Susan Goldberg and the Plain Dealer editorial and management staff should hang its heads in shame today. But I think they are beyond shame.
-- Keith at

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