August 07, 2002
Chron blogger fired

Ginger has discovered what happened to the Chron reporter who ran a blog on the side until said blog was discovered and reported to his boss: He's been fired.

It's a damn shame. I can understand the complaints, and I can understand the Chron ordering him to take it down, but firing? That's an overreaction. Actually, it's more than that: It's a demonization of something the Chron should have embraced.

Yesterday I drove downtown for a meeting, and had to walk past the Houston Press office on my way from the parking lot. As I did I thought of the original story and how I was going to write a letter to Chron editor Jeff Cohen in support of Steve Olafson. I'm sorry to say that I never did do that. I will rectify that error this week.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 07, 2002 to Elsewhere in Houston

What are you going to do?

Sure it is a shame. We can all probably see ourselves in this guy's shoes. But he willingly took a job in an industry that bends over backwards to appear objective. He knew it was risky and that he might get canned if he got caught. I think the issue of his firing is separate from whether or not we have set up an unattainable ideal for our major media outlets(and necessarily their employees) to achieve.

As a matter of social policy, it would probably be better to recognize and embrace media bias as opposed to engaging in a futile effort at removing (read: hiding) it. This would allow different view points to flourish rather than one viewpoint to stagnate and fester unexamined because of its perceived neutrality (mind control through the elimination of alternative view points). As for the reporter, however, given the status quo I understand his being fired.

Posted by: Eric on August 7, 2002 6:32 PM

That's a tough one, Charles, because this fellow was a "reporter" not an editorialist. As much as I am troubled by the guy losing his job, I can understand it happening. When a journalist loses his public objectivity, he's lost his meal ticket.

I'm not a reporter anymore, but when I was...this would have been considered a major league faux pas. Aside from the issue of a reporter's published word belonged to the company (he was likely in violation of his contract), is the more important calculus of actual v. perceived objectivity with the readership and those he'd be called on to use as sources. We all know that journalists frequently come under fire for suspected bias. Convincing someone that your balanced column was not a case of partisan spin can be tricky stuff when folks are dead-set on suspecting otherwise. Imagine the case where they could prove your bias.

Reporters are expected to deliver the straight story without tossing in their own two cents. For that reason, it's a boring job to a lot of people. The "glamorous" job is the one held by the feature writer, the pundit or op-ed gal or guy. This fella was not one of those.

Still, things may actually turn out rosy in the end. If he's good, let's hope that some paper picks him up and has him do that which apparently he does best...speaking his own mind, not reporting what's on someone elses.

Posted by: Lisa on August 7, 2002 7:07 PM