April 10, 2010

"Without explanation, sometime during the last 24 hours, The Cap Times changed the term tea 'baggers' to tea 'partiers' in the third paragraph of Bill Novak's article."

"Why was this done and does The Cap Times consider this practice to be an example of good journalism?"

So wrote Meade in the comments over here, at a Bill Novak blog post, and his comment is now being addressed at a Cap Times blog post, written by  Chris Murphy. Murphy's headline is "What do you think, is writing 'tea baggers' off-limits?"
It's not clear to me if Mr. Meade was taking issue with the lack of explanation, using the word in the first place or changing it. I've e-mailed him to ask (and also to find out if he's the same Laurence Meade who won Ann Althouse's heart through his comments on her blog), but no response yet.
The objection is — I think it's obvious — to using it in the first place and then to changing it without owning up to the fact that you'd done it and that a correction was required.
If it's the lack of explanation that was the issue, well, now you have it...
Put the correction at the site of the original article, not in some other blog post somewhere. You had one thing, and then you replaced it with something else when there was criticism. It's not the explanation that's wanted. It's the transparency. We know the explanation. You got criticized.
... but what if he objected to changing it? Are there a lot of you out there who think we, especially at the liberal-from-the-day-we-were-born Capital Times shouldn't think twice about using a word that raises conservative hackles? I certainly do see it regularly in the comments from tea party opponents.
Yes, we live in Madison, Wisconsin, where cluelessness skews left.
... I don't think it's that bad, but I can't say I'm comfortable seeing it in a news story, either. The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the arbiter on many such questions, has not yet weighed in, though its most recent edition does say that "tea party" should be lowercase. Lots of help there. So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?
Oh, good lord.

ADDED: Meade writes:
"So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?"

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I think your policy should be based on sound journalistic principles - not what your readers think.

Sincerely,
A Gentle Reader

60 comments:

Meade said...

"So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?"

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I think your policy should be based on sound journalistic principles - not what your readers think.

Sincerely,
A Gentle Reader

Paddy O. said...

"if he's the same Laurence Meade who won Ann Althouse's heart through his comments on her blog"

So, Meade is allowed to see other blogs now? Does the on-Althouse get blog jealous? Or is it kind of voyeurism, blogging on his comments with other blogs? Do you ever send him to other blogs, hoping that he will add a witty or insightful comment there?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"It's not clear to me if Mr. Meade:

1) was taking issue with the lack of explanation
2) was taking issue with using the word in the first place, or
3) was taking issue with changing it.

I've e-mailed him to ask."


Let me preface my comment by saying that I am a former newspaper editor and publisher. And the answer to all three of those questions is an emphatic: "Yes."

The newspaper owes its readers all three explanations:

1) Why was the article changed with no notice to readers? Are embarassing CapTimes articles "memory holed" in this fashion on a regular basis? Have CapTimes editors ever read the novel "1984" by George Orwell? Do these editors know what the term "memory hole" means and why this practice is anathema to any reputable news organization?

2) Why was the term ever used in the first place? Who wrote the term in the first place? Did the writer know the origin of the term? Did the writer know it was a derogatory term for a homosexual act - but use that term anyway? Is that writer being disciplined? What is the policy at CapTimes with respect to denigrating political groups in this manner? Would CapTimes allow a reporter to use the word "cunt" or "slut" to describe a female the writer does not like?

3) Why was it changed without comment? Without a correction notice?

The newspaper has the opportunity to explain to its readers - who are watching it - why it allowed this to happen, what is being done to discipline the writer, why they are memory-holing embarassing articles and what readers can expect about their professionalism.

Or, they can be flippant about this.

I hope you get your explanation, but frankly, having been a newspaper editor and a newspaper publisher, I wouldn't advise you to hold your breath.

David said...

"Gentle readers."

Not many of those left.

PS--I doubt the blog comments won Althouse's heart. They were just the intro. It had to be more than that. Or does he think that a commenter marrying a blogess is like one of those prison inmate weddings?

JAL said...

Ahhh David. Some of us are.

Gentle Readers, that is.

Aren't we?

JAL said...

I think the "progressives" are not the right people to ask about a derogatory sexual slur bing used on conservatives. (Are there gentle progressive readers?)

But then, "gentle readers" don't use that kind of language even for their unkempt, ignorant opponents.

wv turment
What kids do to each other, sometimes.

Nora said...

"liberal-from-the-day-we-were-born"

I did not know that "liberal" is a birth defect? However, if 'liberals' admit it ....

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Without explanation, sometime during the last 24 hours, The Cap Times changed the term tea 'baggers' to tea 'partiers' in the third paragraph of Bill Novak's article."

I think some in the Establishment Media are getting it through their thick heads that antagonizing what is becoming an ever-larger slice of the body politic is really bad business.

Nora said...

"liberal-from-the-day-we-were-born"

I did not know that "liberal" is a birth defect? However, if 'liberals' admit it ....


Some are born that way, some achieve it, and some have it thrust upon them.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"I think the "progressives" are not the right people to ask about a derogatory sexual slur bing used on conservatives."

They'll just use it in "safe" venues.

Like they use the N-word.

Only amongst "friends."

AllenS said...

Dear Mr. Murphy,

I don't think your policy should be based on sound journalistic principles. I mean really, why start now?

Sincerely,
AllenS

halojones-fan said...

Consider that you're talking to a group who invented a vile sex act just so that they could have something disgusting to hang a politician's name on (Santorum).

AJ Lynch said...

Using the liberal logic, I guess it is fair now to use "Race hustler" to describe Jesse Jackson, Sharpton and many Dem pols who support their never-ending social justice boondogles. And to describe the MSM sycophants as "pussified PC pukes".

Instugator said...

Meade is The Man. Well done.

scoutt said...

The tea bagger slur is applied to the wrong side of the relationship. If you apply the actual roles of the sexual act, the dominant, power position is the tea bagger and the submissive, abused position is that of the tea bagee.
With that clarification, it is more accurate to say that Obama and the dems are the tea baggers and the overweight, white people with short haircuts are the tea baggees.
That's the only issue I have with the way the media and the big hearted, open minded liberals use the term.

reader_iam said...

"So I'll ask you, gentle readers, what do you think our policy should be?"

Dear Mr. Murphy:

Hmm. Would it similarly have been a toughie to decide whether or not to refer to CODEPINK as "code pinkos" in a news story in your general-circulation news outlet?

Signed,

reader_iam

(a former assistant city editor and assistant copy desk chief who knows what call she'd have made in a split second, no appeal to readers needed, based on what used to be known as journalistic principle and standards)

AJ Lynch said...

"Code Pinkos" is a good one Reader!

AJ Lynch said...

I am going to the driving range - it's almost 70 degrees here. Carry on fellow commenters.

lucid said...

By The Cap Times's editor's standards, the Washington Examiner should refer to The Crap Times and discuss how Obama face-f*cked Pelosi and Stupak over the health care bill.

What a tendentious idiot he is.

Pogo said...

If the Cap Times were anything other than a Democratic Party talking points flier, this issue might matter.

It's sort of endearing they imagine themselves an independent newspaper with a 'stylebook' and 'policies' that are followed.

But it's idiocy for them to think they have 'gentle readers' who believe that, too. The only people who call it a 'newspaper' do so only in terms of where it's placed for recycling.

gk1 said...

Liberals are adorable when the condescend to the rest of the great unwashed. They want to prove to what's left of their dwindling customer base they are "even handed". Too little, too late. But nice gesture. Now turn off the lights on the way out, "cunts".

eve said...

I think that the Cap Times should use the term "ball suckers" or "testicle suckers" so that their very cool audience will more cheerfully savor the joke.

Bob Ellison said...

Also, "It's not clear to me whether...". Not "if". Just as it should be "also to find out whether he's the same Laurence Meade", not "if".

I've never understand why so many bad writers make it in journalism. Is the pay so bad that good writers don't bother?

Bob Ellison said...

Uh..."understood". But I'm not a journalist! Oh, well.

Tregonsee said...

Back in less PC days, late 1970s, we conservatives used to refer to the Cap Times with an "r" in the first word. I believe there may have been as many as 5 of us in Madison at the time. Interesting to see that some things are largely unchanged in the land of four lakes.

Irene said...

(Back from a lovely afternoon in New Glarus.)

Heh.

They're so cutesy smugsy over there.

Jason said...

The good writers either become columnists, or leave journalism to write ad copy, PR, annual reports.

You can be a great reporter but an average writer, though. And that's more important.

Fen said...

liberal-from-the-day-we-were-born Capital Times shouldn't think twice about using a word that raises conservative hackles?

Chris Murphy,

Try replacing the word teabagger with a description of what teabagging actually is, then determine if such filth is suitable for your pages.

If you think its okay to use teabagger in this way, we will use "flicher" to describe you and yours.

Use in a sentance: "Flicher Bob Novak, sucking used cum out of Obama's ass, again"

What a disgusting reference. How could you support the use of either?

Irene said...

Jason said, "You can be a great reporter but an average writer, though. And that's more important."

A good reporter would have known that he would be caught when he changed the word.

A great reporter would have known when he had been caught.

MadisonMan said...

Fen, the word is felch, not flich.

Fen said...

we shouldn't even run it if we're quoting someone else saying it, as we often do with racial slurs?

Do you print the slurs verbatim, or do you mask them with "n-word" or "n----r" ? Because if you mask them, your'e a hypocrite for even posing your question.

Fen said...

Fen, the word is felch, not flich.

Oh my bad, I thought it was filcher. Er...thanks.

Fen said...

"Put the correction at the site of the original article, not in some other blog post somewhere."

No, that would imply integrity on their part. I prefer they remain without.

And thats the other shoe dropping on them - burying the correction is no different than not issuing one in the first place. But its what we've come to expect of Leftist Rags.

Jason said...

A good reporter would have been intellectually curious enough to have already checked out the subtext of the word "teabagger," or he would have conducted so many interviews with people across the spectrum that he could not possibly have missed the subtext.

Either they do this on purpose, or they're shitty reporters.

Irene said...

@Jason: probably both.

Fen said...

Chris Murphy: I don't mean to imply that we put every policy decision up for referendum, but on a borderline case like this -- (relatively) new word that offends some (many?) but isn't clearly obscene

What an idiot.

Ann Althouse said...

Murphy seems to think the only question is how dirty is it. But why is a newspaper referring to a political group with a bit of name-calling slang? Imagine if there was an article about Obama and they called him "The Zero" or something. Not in a quote. Just what they call him. It would be insane. It wouldn't matter that "zero" isn't a dirty word.

JAL said...

reader_iam, but that would't be a slur. It would be a true description. Stupid and pink.

(Cut to interview with Code Pink person in Berkley as she stood outside the US Marine recruiting office protesting, saying it would be cool good if there was some organized group to defend her right to free speech.)

JAL said...

Are all Cap reporters / editors that dense?

reader_iam said...

Murphy seems to think the only question is how dirty is it. But why is a newspaper referring to a political group with a bit of name-calling slang? Imagine if there was an article about Obama and they called him "The Zero" or something. Not in a quote. Just what they call him. It would be insane. It wouldn't matter that "zero" isn't a dirty word.

Exactly. The main issue for me, in the context of a *news* article in what purports to be a gen-circ *news* source, is that employing such loaded terms "teabaggers" or, in my own example, "code pinkos" is inherently to take a *position,* to choose a side and--frankly--to do in a "slip-it-by" fashion. I don't see how someone serious about *news* can fail to see the problem. (I'm not saying issues of obscenity aren't important--just that in many cases, w/r/t to straight *news*--you don't necessarily have to go there because something else already trumps. As here, IMO.)

In case I have to say it, by the way, I personally make distinctions between news, news analysis, news features, commentary and op-ed (and also between gen-circ sources and targeted, specialized sources). My preference is that they be labeled that way, too (as often used to be done). That latter is by now an old fashioned, however, and I get that. I'd settle for the distinctions being maintained in terms of execution ... .

JAL: If you read this comment, you can probably guess what my response to yours would be. : ) I'd just be taking up space re-stating distinctions of category if I answered yours separately, and God knows none of us wants that. ; )

Peano said...

Tempest. Teacup.

reader_iam said...

Man, now I'm getting flashbacks. Wish I had some bucks for every conversation I ever had over many, many years over what (parallel, fair, as factual-yet-neutral as possible) terminology ought be used with regard to those debating abortion and Roe v. Wade, both in political and philosophical contexts.

Yikes!

AJ Lynch said...

Reader:

I heard recently NPR will no longer use "Pro-life" to refer to pro-lifers. I forget what their version of Pravda has decreed is now appropriate....it may be anti-abortion rights or anti-woman rights.

[That is our tax dollars at work]

AJ Lynch said...

I am watching the Phils plays Houston and for the second game in a row, GHW Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush have the seats right behind home plate. He seems to watch the game intently while she looks to be reading something most of the time.

Go Phils!

reader_iam said...

AJ: I REALLY don't want to hijack this thread or even move it more to a digression that I already have (plus, I'm starting some homemade sauces to which I must pay attention). However, I would submit to you that there a marked and significant difference [even/just] between the two examples you gave--"anti-abortion rights" or "anti-woman rights"--in both kind and degree. : )

Ralph L said...

No one objects to a supposedly egaliterian editor using the ancient class identifier "gentle?"

AJ Lynch said...

Reader:

I just thought, with your background, you might find the NPR style decision of interest. No biggie.

reader_iam said...

AJ: Oh, no. I really DO find it of interest, and probably more than even you know. Just don't think the discussion would work here, and now, that's all. I was not meaning to discourage or diminish your comment, at all, at all.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

The Tea Party movement wants to stop wasteful and excessive government spending and reduce the amount of control the federal government exercises over the citizens. They want to replace a large number of incumbents in the U.S. Congress due their to lack of responsible and responsive governance and disrespect for the founding principles of the constitution.

I just think such points should come up in a discussion of the Tea Party movement occasionally.

If you disagree with those goals, then I suppose you might call them "teabaggers" as a way of disrespecting them and distracting attention away from their arguments.

That may work to some degree, it sure has here, But such people also call these fellow citizens "racists", "idiots", "inbreeding rubes", "white trash" and "unpatriotic". All equally persuasive and respectful arguments against the movements "radical" ideas.

I'm sure convinced...of something.

4/10/10 9:06 PM

GMay said...

"Tempest. Teacup."

I agree, this is much ado about nothing. Let's keep "Teabaggers" and call their opposition "Cocksuckers" and call it even.

lucid said...

Actually, I think The Crap Times are more ass-lickers than cocksuckers---goes better with their name and their sychophancy..

Fen said...

Peano: Tempest. Teacup.

I'm always amused when someone posts that its not worth posting about...

Kirk Parker said...

"Some of us are.

Gentle Readers, that is.

Aren't we?
"

Well, I'm generally quite gentle. Until someone addresses me as "gentle reader": then I immediately start feeling like I want to hit somebody.

Susan said...

TEA Party stands for T(Taxed) E(Enough) A(Already). To use a sexual slur, besides being ugy, is a distraction from the real issues, that those who are in favor of a small government are trying to do. Nothing is wrong with wanting a big government either, just a different opinion. TEA party people want to preserve liberty and freedom for people. They want ALL people to be prosperous. Entitlements do not make poor people wealthy, it supports them being dependent on gov. Yes, they need a helping hand to be able to help them stand on their own, not a crutch. Besides, too large a gov. runs out of other people's money. I am a social liberal who is in favor of gay marriage and limted gov. regulations, and belong to a TEA party. We don't want to form a politcal party either, only participate in having our voice heard. Amazing how threatened most mainstream media are of free speech!

DaveW said...

AJ Lynch said...

I am watching the Phils plays Houston and for the second game in a row, GHW Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush have the seats right behind home plate. He seems to watch the game intently while she looks to be reading something most of the time.

She charts the games. They're there most of the time and she's always charting merrily away. I've long thought it interesting that she knows enough about baseball to sit there and chart like that.

bill said...

Susan said: TEA Party stands for T(Taxed) E(Enough) A(Already).

Though the idea fits with the original Boston Tea party analogy, "taxed enough already" was created afterward as a back-filled acronym.

AlphaLiberal said...

What a joke this outrage over "teabagger" and "teabag!"

It's a term they took for themselves!

So you guys caught on it also means a sort of oral sex (news to me, too) and don't want to use it. Fine.

Personally, I like "TPers" as shorthand for teapartier. The association with juvenile pranks is also descriptive of the "movement".

But you look foolish when you get huffy and outraged. Really, when you're pretending you didn't use a word we know you did, you sound a bit Maoist. Orwellian.

AlphaLiberal said...

I hope the Capital Times will report more on how the Tea Party "movement" was a creation of DC wall street lobbyists.

For example, from an April 2009 new report on the first TP rallies:

'I asked him where the idea came from. "Tom Gaithens," Hendrix said. "He's with FreedomWorks."

"Oh really?"

"He sent an email out with his network of contacts to see who could help."'

FreedomWorks is a lobby shop working for corporate clients and led by former Republican elected officials, like former House leader Dick Armey and Republican operatives and Hill staff.

AlphaLiberal said...

All praise Chairman Armey!.

Also, do the TPers deny their tactic of mailing in tea bags to Congress?

And who can forget Tea Bag the Liberal Dems before they Tea Bag you.

Jerry said...

Um, what's that Altblog abbr y'all use to denote a submission to the lexicon?

With a nod to Peano above, I commend the term "teacup" to your common and casual usage, defined as "a coarse juvenile lout who says 'teabagger'". For example, "Anderson, you're such a metro teacup." Rattle the china a little.