September 08, 2006

Andy Kantor Finds a River In Egypt

In a USA Today column of September, 7 entitled, Technology empowers amateur journalism — for better or worse, Andrew Kantor decided—for whatever reason—to attack Charles Johnson of the blog Little Green Footballs and his principles.

Kantor stated:

Take the blog that exposed those Reuters/Adnan Hajj photos — Little Green Footballs (LGF). It's written by a Web designer from California named Charles Johnson.

Johnson took offense to a column by Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher magazine, in which Mitchell decried the baseless attacks on war photographers after the Hajj affair.

So Johnson went from using his technology toolbox like a pro to using it like an amateur. He dug up an article Mitchell wrote in 2003 in which Mitchell admitted that — more than 30 years ago — he faked some quotes while working for a local newspaper in Niagara Falls.

Mitchell was clearly embarrassed — it went against his professional ethics enough that 30 years later he told the story. But what was Johnson's take? He claimed it as proof that Mitchell had "first-hand experience with staging news."

Calling it "staging news" or saying Mitchell "faked a news story" was a bit off the deep end, and neither accusation would have gotten by a professional editor. But Johnson isn't a professional. He's just a guy with a toolbox. He had great success using it, helping to expose the faked Bush National Guard memos, as well as those Adnan Hajj photos.

But he mistook having a well-worn set of professional tools with being equivalent to a well-followed set of pro principles.

For someone who purports to be a professional journalist critiquing and criticizing citizen journalism, Mr. Kanor seems to have a problem with a core element of journalism, i.e. getting his facts and sources correct.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs did not "dig up an article Mitchell wrote in 2003."

Jon Ham, currently VP for Communications for The John Locke Foundation wrote about Mitchell's admitted malfeasance the first time around while writing as a professional journalist for the Durham Herald-Sun.

After Mitchell wrote a pair of editorials attacking bloggers (though billed as a defense of war photographers), Mr. Ham sent a link to the 2003 editorial to me, which inspired me to write a post on it on my blog that quickly spread through the blogosphere exactly two weeks ago today.

To the best of my knowledge, every person who wrote about this admitted example in Mitchell's past of staging the news did, in fact, cite my blog as the source, including Little Green Footballs. Mr. Kantor expresses an interest and concern for "pro principles," and so I find it disturbing that he would institute such an attack without getting his basic facts correct.

I'm equally disturbed that a writer of technology does not seem to understand the term "hat tip" which Mr. Johnson used to clearly indicate that I was the source. Perhaps Kantor's understanding of the cyber-culture he covers is perhaps not quite as extensive as he would have his readers believe.

I wish Mr. Kantor had understood that bit of terminology, for if he had, and followed Mr. Johnson's link back to my blog, he would likely have discovered that the act of citing Mr. Mitchell's 2003 editorial led to "someone" at Editor & Publisher to suddenly rewrite the lede of Mr. Mitchell's 2003 editorial to cast him in a far more favorable light. Mitchell is now the obvious suspect in an ethical breach that one Washington, D.C. based newspaper editor said was serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Neither Mitchell, nor publisher Charles McKeown, nor parent company VNU Media's spokesman Will Thoretz will comment two weeks after this clear violation of journalistic ethics, putting up a stonewall of silence, no doubt hoping that the concrete example of journalistic fraud committed in the rewrite of Mitchell's 2003 column will simply die away.

Andrew Kantor say that bloggers have a nice tools for communication, but not the principles. As the editor and publisher of Editor & Publisher both continue to stonewall critics over a serious and obvious breach of journalistic ethics, and no professional journalists with come forth to defend them, I find his nose-in-the-air defense of journalistic principles to ring quite hollow.

( h/t: LGF)

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 8, 2006 11:38 AM | TrackBack

Am I missing something?

Kantor said "Calling it "staging news" or saying Mitchell "faked a news story" was a bit off the deep end, and neither accusation would have gotten by a professional editor."

His assignment was to get quotes from people at the falls, he made up his own. Isn't that "staging" or "faking" the news he was supposed to get?

BTW to Kantor if you read this. H/T LGF means that CY (Confederate Yankee, aka Bob Owens) is thanking LGF (Little Green Footballs, aka Charles Johnson) for pointing to the story. aka stands for Also Known As.

Posted by: Retired Navy at September 8, 2006 12:03 PM

Andrew Kantor just placed himself squarely in the blogosphere crosshairs.

What a moron. Will these people never learn?

When you defend the indefensible as he has, there is obviously something in his own background that is worth digging up.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at September 8, 2006 04:32 PM