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Mar 01, 2010

Comments

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Jon Lowder

Context? We don't need no stinkin' context.

sean coon

bledsoe... ha!

Bubba

For the record, I have no problem with Killian calling himself Killian.

I do have a problem, however, with Cone's obsession with criticizing people in his profession who are more successful than he is.

And spare me the "accuracy counts!" angle in reply, particularly from certain people who want to perpetuate the "Wray the Racist/Bad Cop/Intolerable Raaaaaaacism!" meme.

Ed Cone

Bob, I published a column long ago saying that Wray had been unfairly tagged as a racist. So that part of your story is just flat-out wrong.

I've enjoyed a good relationship with Jerry for many years, and hope to do so into the future.

But this attack on Killian was out of line, and, in the instance corrected here, clearly off-base.

If I was consumed with people more successful than myself, I wouldn't have much time to write about anything else.

sean coon

no, accuracy doesn't count at all, bubba. i mean, how could a journalist like bledsoe twist the words of a source if it did matter?

[smacks forehead!]

you don't think this type of manipulative sourcing makes bledsoe look bad? this wasn't ed criticizing bledsoe; this was ed following up on one of bledsoe's sources and exposing him.

jerry made his bed with this one.

for the record (since i know people keep them here): i barely know joe killian, don't care about the wray fiasco, but i absolutely do think that jerry bledsoe doesn't know when to quit.

Ed Cone

This is not about playing gotcha with Jerry.

Joe was criticized harshly in the Rhino for his name and its alleged relationship to the quality of his work.

When people said, eh, the name is not a big deal, McBride was invoked as an authority on journalistic ethics to say otherwise.

So what McBride actually thinks about Joe's name is important to know.

Killian's reputation and professional ethics are being questioned, he deserves a fair analysis of the issues raised.

Jerry may still disagree on the ethics question, but I'm sure he does not wish Joe ill, and would want this source to be quoted accurately in context.

sean coon

i don't know jerry from adam, so i can't speak with absolute knowledge of his intent on the matter, but i'd posit that if he wanted a thoughtful response from mcbride, he would've provided enough context to elicit such a response.

her quoted response to you, ed, reads as though he fished for a response with the right bait and left with a packed cooler to share on the rhino & here.

anyone with knowledge of joe's openness (and without an axe to grind) would conclude that his name isn't a "pseudonym." it isn't something that one needs an expert to clarify. but jerry felt it deserved further clarification and that's what bugs me about hammer (and jerry's) take on all this.

hammer makes a childish attempt to discredit joe while associating him with a lovable pig, all the while his meal ticket, bledsoe, runs out to get backing of his paycheck's take on the situation by providing weak context to an outside expert -- virtually guaranteeing a particular quote to be delivered in return.

like i said, i don't know bledsoe, but this reads as extremely shaky sourcing/reporting, if not worse.

Reggie Greene / The Logistician

Advice columnists as journalists.... Absolutely fascinating.

Brian Clarey

Surely Bledsoe/Hammer have never done anything like this before.
Heh.
It's called working backwards. Form a premise, and then do whatever you can -- ask loaded questions, cherrypick facts and quotes, whatever -- to make your case. I believe it's a form of malpractice when it comes to journalism, but it's okay for lawyers to do it.

Spag

Brian, the N&R is at least as guilty as The Rhino of "working backwards" when it comes to the GPD story. They headlined the sensational headlines and buried or ignored the exculpatory facts.

mick

I used to actually like the Rhino. Have always considered it Opinion vs News but I was cool with it. Politically I am right of moderate but am being "forced" towards middle by some elements of Rep party and the Right in general. Which is fine. I liked reading Rhino as it was and in some ways still is a refreshing look/angle on local events. But I tire of the "working backwards" work ethic which I do see from time to time. I appreciated Bledsoe's work with the Wray ordeals (at least for a few weeks). I think he and many locals deserve a tremendous amount of credit for bringing much information to light as other media outlets seemed to be "working backwards" in that case.

However, this Killian stuff is crap. Including Bledsoe's apparent half ass attempt to support his friend/employer/colleague... whatever. All has the feel of a high school newspaper squabble and is just bullshit.
I read The Rhino less and less as I get enough of the far right angle on blogs.

I get tired when the info stops and the "just trying to win the debate" starts.

Brian Clarey

"They headlined the sensational headlines and buried or ignored the exculpatory facts."

Working backwards is in no way endemic to the Rhino. But I think that describes the Bledsoe series pretty well.

David Wharton

It's not just "working backwards" at the Rhino. They also just make stuff up.

Blogger

I'm not sure what the Rhino is shooting for here. In regards to the Rhino, they publish items all the time without attributing the author. It's called "Sound of the Beep."

They also publish letters to the editor anonymously all of the time. No author mentioned there either.

In other words, if the Rhino is trying to condemn people who publish without revealing their name, then they have a lot of hypocrisy to go around.

Also, in regards to publishing items in newspapers under pseudonyms, it is not considered to be dishonest to withhold your name or publish under another name. Ever heard of Benjamin Franklin? Or how about Joe Klein (Primary Colors author, published under "Anonymous")? Or even the entire staff of The Economist?

Of course in fiction, I'm sure that no one has ever heard of Mark Twain, George Orwell, or O.Henry?

I'm just glad that the Rhino has Dr. Jimmy Tee at the paper (at least according to their list of newspaper staff members) to keep other newspapers like the News & Fishwrap honest.

Jim Caserta

How is the WMS renovation coming along? Is it at all?

Fred Gregory

"Jerry may still disagree on the ethics question, but I'm sure he does not wish Joe ill, and would want this source to be quoted accurately in context."
Ed Cone: March 1

"Why is Jerry ( Bledsoe ) so intent on destroying this young man?"
Ed Cone: Feb. 27

Help me . Which is it ?

Ed Cone

Good question, Fred.

Don't Call Me Joe

I don't have a dog in this fight - I'm not a big fan of the N&R's management. But the Rhino has a track record of playing fast and loose with the truth.

Not that the N&R doesn't get things wrong or deny its own mistakes. But there at least seems to be a general effort to get things right most of the time (Before anyone jumps on me, I said most, not all).

But I don't see much honesty at the Rhino. Their approach seems to be, "We'll shape the facts to fit the story we want to tell." The Rhino reminds me of that old joke about the Soviet newspaper after the U.S. team beat the Russians. According to the joke, the Soviet paper's headline was, "Russian team finishes second; U.S. places next-to-last." It's a technically true, but incredibly misleading, statement, and that's the sort of thing I see in the Rhino, as the Kelly McBride out-of-context quote illustrates.

Personally, I'd love to see a conservative counterpoint to the liberal N&R. But it needs to be a responsible one - the Carolina Journal, for example, practices excellent, honest journalism. The Rhino often does more harm than good to the causes it claims to espouse.

LorraineAhearn

Dear Joe/Not Joe,

Nor do I have a dog in this fight; however, I do have a respected co-worker.

Mr. Gregory, the second question, I am sure, is the pertinent one. You may wish to read the following "blog" thread from four years ago.

http://joekillian.wordpress.com/2006/05/14/there-are-customers-coming-in-saying-what-do-you-need/

Its hostility, bitterness and vitriol is characteristic. You may also wish to ask: What do the journalists who are the primary targets of this hostility, bitterness and vitriol have in common with its author? And is there a remote possibility that that common history taints the author's objectivity?

To quote Nancy Walker as TV's Ida Morgenstern, "I'm no psychiatrist, I'm just a mother."

Roch101

On thing I can say about Joe is that he has always answered any question I may have had and has never been so rude or arrogant as to simply ignore one.

TheShu

I'm not real familiar with this whole story, but I'm confused as to what difference it makes as to whether you use your real name as a journalist.

For five years I worked as a professional news reporter/journalist and even News Director in the radio business under the pseudonym "Dan Randall". I also used that name in print freelancing for several newspapers and even won awards from the AP under that name. Not because I needed to hide anything...but for the simple fact that my real last name is just too hard for people to pronounce.

I know dozens of radio and tv reporters who do the same as well. Does that make them any less of a journalist? What's the big deal?

Don't Call Me Joe

I think you are on to something, Lorraine. While I respect what Mr. Bledsoe has accomplished as an author, he clearly has a personal ax to grind with the N&R.

And he may well be right in feeling the way he does. But it's a shame he's making Joe Killian "collateral damage" in his vendetta against the News & Record. Whatever beef Bledoe may have with the paper, it's not Joe's doing.

Ed Cone

Beyond his many accomplishments as a reporter and author, Jerry has been a gracious friend to younger journalists, including me.

I've tried to be accessible to other writers, including Joe, in the same way Jerry has been for me.

The question of what Shaw did or didn't say to Killian is a live and legitimate story, and any woofing between weekly and daily papers is part of the game.

But I hope that McBride's comments, which seem to be in line with the feelings of a vast majority of commenters here, will help settle this particular issue, and we can move on.

Ian McDowell

"Personally, I'd love to see a conservative counterpoint to the liberal N&R. But it needs to be a responsible one - the Carolina Journal, for example, practices excellent, honest journalism. The Rhino often does more harm than good to the causes it claims to espouse."

Well said, Don't Call Me Joe. That's my big problem with many local blogosphere conservatives other than David Wharton and Jeff Sykes. I'll check out the Carolina Journal and see if they make me feel less embarrassed about my own increasing conservativism than Hammer, Bubba, the Sound of the Beep yahoos and Beau D. Jackson do.

I'm probably disagreeing with my sometimes editor Brian Clarey (not that I've asked him about this) when I say that I find most of "Cops in Black and White" (no matter how redundant and sometimes ill-written) more trustworthy than anything the News & Record has printed on the Wray Fray, both because I know someone who knows several of the cops and gangstas that Bledsoe writes about and who says they're just as in bed together as Bledsoe claims, and also because I was there when John Robinson made the absurd claim that Bledsoe's censored contribution to the O. Henry round-robin story that I initiated for Fred Chappell and the N&R was "racist" (I thought it heavy-handed and not all that funny, but the "racist" claim was cowardly bullshit).

However, I find Bledsoe's behavior in this thread just as weaselly as Robinson's was at that public event, and it slightly undermines my confidence in anything he's written in the past. Which is a pity, because "Cops in Black and White" has raised important issues and served as a necessary corrective to the N&R's dishonesty on this issue.

Kim

I've often wondered if a certain N&R reporter had an axe to grind with the GPD.

LorraineAhearn

Which N&R reporter do you mean? Did they used to work for the GPD?

Brian Clarey

Ian: Did you actually read the whole thing? Because if you did, you're the second person I know who has, behind Jordan Green.

Kim

If any of the N&R reporting on the Wray Fray has been redressed, please direct me to it.

Ian McDowell

Brian, God help me, yes I did. Engrossing for a long time, then increasingly tedious. REALLY needed a copy editor.

But I ended up talking about many of the installments with the guy who says he went to school with one of the guys who allegedly tried to put the hit on Bledsoe (and to church with one of the black officers), and he gave a lot of interesting background insight, assuming it's true.

Roch101

Can I be blunt? Lorraine, do you still fathom that people have any remaining respect for your professionalism or do you just have no interest in restoring it?

LorraineAhearn

Please, Mr. Roch Smith, Jr., take whatever tone suits you best.

If your definition of "professionalism" is, as it seems to have been from the start of this matter, to demand that a reporter disclose the content of off-the-record conversations, reveal confidential sources and publicly opine about investigations (in violation of standing ethics policies and specific directives from supervisors) then we disagree fundamentally on what constitutes a "professional" reporter.

Our editor-in-chief has publicly, repeatedly, answered questions, ad nauseum, about this five-year-old story. That is the public role of an editor.

I, on the other hand, am a reporter. If you have a problem as a reader, citizen, student or a freelance journalist that you feel I can assist you with, you can contact me and I will try my best.

This is not our high debating team, or a parlor game where we use fake names and play "Dungeons and Dragons." We take this quite seriously.

If you want to kick me in the teeth one more time, have at it. But it is my observation that there has been an excess of -- as I referenced earlier -- hostility, bitterness and vitrol leveled at the News & Record with little or no question as to what is so obviously driving it.

Thank you for this opportunity to express my support for my co-worker.

Doug Clark

Ed, thanks for this post.

Bubba

"Our editor-in-chief has publicly, repeatedly, answered questions, ad nauseum, about this five-year-old story."

I suppose he has in a fashion, but certainly not very well.

Roch101

Lorraine, you crafted a multi-part misrepresentation in your original reporting, left it to others to rectify, joked about your errors and avoided answering questions. In doing so, you have damaged the credibility of the your organization (with people who were longtime and loyal readers with no axe to grind) and, by extension, have tarnished the reputations of the coworkers for whom you claim to have so much concern.

What people rightfully expect is not that you or John answer questions, but that the News & Record revisit, as Ed says, its reporting on the GPD and update the record--reporting that stopped when subsequent facts and public understanding started to undermine your original reporting. New reporting to correct the record is long overdue.

However, since you are offering your assistance, here are some questions I have pertaining to your and your colleague's reporting:

1. The black book was represented as "shown to every prostitute and junkie." This was attributed to "investigators" when, in fact, there was only a single source, one investigator, the RMA private investigator hired by the City. Despite trying, N&R reporters were never able to corroborate this claim. The story ran without this description being corroborated and erroneously attributed to multiple sources. The N&R has never reported that it relied on a single source for this claim. Why not?

2. The source for those remarks was, in fact, repeating what he acknowledged was a rumor: "We are hearing..." that there is a book being "shown to every prostitute and junkie." Furthermore, he immediately followed that description with "That's an exaggeration." That the source was repeating a rumor that he said he was exaggerating was not reported by the N&R. Only his exaggerated rumor was reported by the N&R. The N&R has never reported that this source referred to this characterization as an exaggeration of a rumor. Why not?

3. Assertions of the character and use of the book made by City Manager Mitch Johnson and reported in the N&R were subsequently contradicted by a sworn affidavit of The City Manager, he having sworn that the city had no information that indicates any misuse of the book. The N&R has not reported that the City Manager now swears this. Why not?

4. The N&R reported that Police Chief Tim Bellamy said he could find no records of the alleged assault for which the line-up book was created. The City later admitted to a N&R reporter that it does, in fact, have records of the alleged assault. The N&R has not reported the existence of those records. Why not?

I look forward to your assistance.

Spag

Roch, I have it on some fairly reliable sources that Lorraine is still in the "if you only knew what I knew" camp when it comes to the GPD scandal.

Apparently, there is still information out there that confirms the original reporting of the N&R that federal investigations, state investigations, a 92 part piece in the Rhino that went unanswered by the N&R, our lawsuit, Mitch Johnson's own admissions, and a few other court cases and all the discovery that is involved in them (indeed required by law) etc have yet to uncover. Only Ms. Ahearn and a select few true believers are privy to the "real truth". Yet for some reason they aren't willing to publish it despite truth being a defense to libel.

Her second paragraph above about "confidential sources" seems to confirm her opinion that was conveyed to me months ago by another source. She still thinks she got it right and expects you to believe that you would agree if you only knew what she knows.

For her to have the nerve to criticize anyone at the Rhino about getting the story straight or "smearing" anyone (David Wray? Scott Sanders? Matt Lojko?) is unbelievable.

I don't think the attack on Joe's last name was fair, and I agree that perhaps the real issue is whether Linda told Hammer one thing and Joe something else, but Lorraine Ahearn should have stayed out of it unless she is ready to face the music herself.

Fred Gregory

Ed,

The move on thing ain't getting it. The N&R has an obligation to Ms. Shaw and other witnesses to reach the truth. You and Jerry Bledsoe both suggested routes to that goal, however I believe that a fuller investigation by the Editor himself will be more likely to reach the right result.

Ms. Ahearn,

Privately expressing support for your co-worker is admirable but to do it publicly without having all the facts is irresponsible bordering on Nixonian .

So tell me, Ms. Ahearn, was it purient interest or hostility or both that brought you to the courthouse for the Sanders trial. I don't recall seeing any story(s) by you on that event.

Kim

Just maybe, folks are a little upset at what this sorry attempt at journalism has done to OUR community. Needless divisiveness and distrust for us and nothing but arrogance from the N&R. They still don't get it.

Spag

I forgot to mention Randall Brady...

Spag

"If you want to kick me in the teeth one more time, have at it. But it is my observation that there has been an excess of -- as I referenced earlier -- hostility, bitterness and vitrol leveled at the News & Record with little or no question as to what is so obviously driving it."

Let me guess- it's probably racism driving it...

Or could it be that the hostility has something to do with the N&R unapologetically dropping huge racially polarizing bombs on the public and then retreating when the truth comes out and pretending that nothing happened?

I think this is what motivates most of the hostility and it comes from many more corners than the Rhino Times and Jerry Bledsoe. Roch Smith Jr and I can't agree on anything but we strongly agree on this issue. Dare I say that even Ed Cone and I have some common ground on this even though I think he is a little late coming around.

Blaming the criticism and attacks as being solely due to some personal grievances between Bledsoe/Hammer and John Robinson will not serve you well at all because it does not explain where the other arrows are coming from. You may be able to dismiss me and some others as just "right wing" extremists (the next usual scapegoat of the liberal media) but that still leaves a lot of quivers in the air.

Sometimes you just have to say you got it wrong. The attitude that dominates the editorial level of the N&R simply won't allow that to happen. If Joe is paying the price, it isn't his fault.

Lex

Actually, Ed, I'm kind of curious about Fred's question, too. Do you or do you not think Bledsoe wishes Joe Killian ill? If so, why? If not, how do you explain Bledsoe's behavior?

[[If Joe is paying the price, it isn't his fault.]]

Uh, no, Sam. Joe is not responsible for any poor decisions allegedly made by anyone else on staff, particularly those who outrank him. And I'm, to put it politely, struggling to understand why someone who claims to be conservative (which implies, among other things, a belief in personal responsibility) would think it is in any way, shape or form OK to abuse Killian over actions for which he had no responsibility.

Roch101

Lex, reread what you quoted from Sam.

Kim

it isn't his fault?

Spag

Lex, you obviously have not really read anything I've written on this thread, and my conservatism has nothing to do with the subject. I will repeat my position on Joe. 1) I think the stuff about his name was off base. 2) Apparently he was told one thing and Hammer was told something else. We know that Hammer is not lying because Linda has denied that Skip touched her. Hammer has only reported that denial. So either Linda is lying when she said she never told Joe that Skip hit her or Joe is lying. My point was that if people choose to believe Linda over Joe it may have more to do with the N&R's credibility and upper management than it does Joe, and that isn't his fault. Whether people SHOULD believe Linda over Joe or vice-versa is not a call I am going to make. Not now anyway.

Now will YOU take responsibility and admit that you misread/misinterpreted what I wrote or are you some kind of liberal (which implies, among other things, disbelief in personal responsibility)?

Lex

Yup, I completely misread it. I apologize.

Spag

Apology accepted. It happens.

Roch101

"We know that Hammer is not lying because Linda has denied that Skip touched her." -- Spag

Says Hammer. So by that measure, we know Joe is not lying because Shaw confirmed Joe's reporting as accurate, says Joe.

Shaw could stop by here and explain in her own words or she could explain in her own words on her blog, but short of that, we have Hammer saying I'm not lying and Joe saying I'm not lying, that leaves one person who might be letting a reporter take the heat for her misstatements.

Ed Cone

Fred,

What I'm suggesting is that we move on from is the attempt to undermine Killian based on his name.

The ethicist invoked by Jerry has said that the name is a non-issue, and I've rarely seen wider agreement among commenters than I have on that same subject.

Nobody is suggesting the she said/she said angle is off-limits.

In fact, I wrote in the very comment you cite: "The question of what Shaw did or didn't say to Killian is a live and legitimate story."

But trying to game that issue by attacking the guy's credibility based on his name? Not so much.

Don't Call Me Joe

Lots of good points made here. I agree that the N&R's management has a lousy track record on owning up to its mistakes. I think people are understanding of honest mistakes in journalism - it's denying those mistakes that is the problem.

Having said that, when is the last time the Rhino ever corrected one of its many errors? The Rhino loves to point out when the N&R screws up, but they never own up to their own mistakes.

Instead, they choose to hide behind the rather weak defense of "We're up front about our political slant." As if that excuses outright factual errors and misleading statements.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for holding the N&R accountable. But shouldn't the Rhino be held to the same ethical standard?

Roch101

Specifics?

Fred Gregory

Ed,

I agree that the name oddity, albeit singular, doesn't mean squat to a train.

And I guess we also agree that further inquiry on the Shaw-Alston kerfuffle is warranted. The question is how to resolve it with finality.

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