Los Angeles Times: Notice from the Editors
The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzikâ€™s Golden State blog on latimes.com. Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paperâ€™s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics policy, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.
The Los Angeles Times Ethics Policy (newly revised) is here.
The Times expects its editorial staff to behave with dignity and professionalism. We do nothing while gathering the news that we would be ashamed to see in print or on television. We do not let the behavior of the pack set standards for us.
In general, we identify ourselves as staff members when covering news events. There are some instances when offering such identification is impossible, impractical or counterproductive, but in no case should a staff member lie about his or her affiliation with The Times. We should deal honorably with people and institutions we cover, just as we expect them to deal honorably with us.
Times journalists may not use their affiliation with the newspaper to resolve personal disputes or seek special treatment or personal benefits. Emphasis in bold is Flap’s.
Flap views Hiltzik’s conduct as a clear violation of this section of the Los Angeles Time’s Ethics Policy. But, this is not the first time Hiltzik has run afoul of Los Angeles Times policies.
In 1993 he was not fired or suspended as the L.A. Times Moscow Correspondent for hacking into a co-workers e-mail account. Hiltzik was merely reassigned to Spring Street to the Business Section where he has won a Pulitzer Prize.
And then there is this section of the Los Angeles Times Ethics Policy:
The emergence of blogs has created potential quandaries for staff members who want to express themselves through that medium. No matter how careful Times bloggers might be to distinguish their personal work from their professional affiliation with the paper, outsiders are likely to see them as intertwined. As a result, any staff member who seeks to create a personal blog must clear it with a supervisor; approval will be granted only if the proposed blog meets the paperâ€™s journalistic standards. When approval is granted, staff members should take care not to write anything in their blogs that would not be acceptable in the newspaper. Staff members should observe the same principle when contributing to blogs other than their own.
Clearly, another violation of the ethics policy.
Hiltzik, arrogant and unapologetic in his blog this morning about lying about his name and writing attributions deserves the back hand of the Los Angeles Times and the Tribune Company.
Michael Hiltzik should be history at the Los Angeles Times.
Hugh Hewitt has more: The Los Angeles Times Suspended the Blog?
Patterico responds to the suspension: Hiltzikâ€™s Blog Suspension Should Not End the L.A. Timesâ€™s Interactivity with Readers
I didnâ€™t know anything about Michael Hiltzik when I said that, or I wouldnâ€™t have made that comment. I donâ€™t really want to see blogs like his â€” blogs manned by deceptive sock-puppeteering destroyers of strawman arguments. What I wanted to see was blogs manned by honest reporters and columnists of all political persuasions, who would be willing to engage their reading audience on a personal level.
I still want to see that. But Iâ€™m afraid that this incident may have ensured that we wonâ€™t see any such blogs on the Timesâ€™s web site for a long time to come.
I hope Iâ€™m wrong. I hope that Times editors realize that their mistake was not the decision to allow a staff writer to operate a blog â€” it was the choice of Michael Hiltzik as that blogger. I hope that this is not the end of the paperâ€™s experiment in using the Internet to interact with its readers. It is a noble experiment, and I want to see it continue.
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