Monday, November 12, 2007

Local Paper Digs Toward Center of the Earth

Remember the story of Bobby Calvan, reporter for the major Sacramento newspaper--the reporter who made an international ass of himself in Baghdad a few weeks ago? Well, I wrote about him in this post and wondered how long "this pissant reporter (will remain) employed."

Well, the paper's public editor wrote a piece today--and it looks like Mr. Calvan will be getting the corner office.

"It was used by people with a political agenda," said Mark Seibel, managing editor in charge of foreign coverage for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. "They were trying to discredit our reporting coming out of Iraq."

Really? You don't say! When your reporter shows he has a chip on his shoulder the size of a 2x4 regarding our soldiers protecting his miserable hide, well hell yes your reporting coming out of Iraq is somewhat suspect.

Seibel noted that it's common for reporters everywhere to talk their way past guards and security, whether it's on a city street in the United States or dealing with sentries in a foreign land.

"Bobby's mistake was blogging about it and expressing his frustration."

No, "Bobby's" mistake was to forget his ID and/or credentials and to try to pull a "do you know who I am" with an American soldier on guard. "Bobby" compounded his mistake by blogging about the incident.

Now, a little more than two weeks later, the attention has faded, flashing bright for a few moments like a falling meteor and gone just as quickly.

So why, why oh why, did this editor feel the need to resurrect this controversy? He obviously feels his reporter was wronged and wants to rehabilitate his image now that the story's passed. This editor has no idea how the blogosphere works.

What I want to know is whether the blogosphere's trip-wire is just mindlessly sensitive in igniting outrage or was it just a slow week in the conservatives' Internet neighborhood?

I wonder why this editor thinks it necessary to pick scabs. It was a big story, the blogosphere made it a big story, the blogosphere got what it wanted (more proof of biased reporting from Iraq, and at least a pseudo-apology from the reporter), and then, like adults, let the story go away. This editor seems unwilling to show the same maturity.

By the way, I'm well aware today is Veterans Day. Today's column has nothing to do with that, so please don't go there. I'm proud of our men and women in uniform. I have family wearing that uniform now.

This isn't about them. This is about politics and playing games.

He really doesn't get it. First, the blogosphere wasn't playing politics or games--we were genuinely concerned about the slant of McClatchy's reporter in a freakin' war. It seems that the Bee itself is now playing games, trying to pick another fight now that most of the kids have gone home. I can't imagine anything more childish.

And despite his protest, it's hard not to question the timing of this opinion piece. I can't imagine anything more obvious.

You should have let it go, Mr. Acuna. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. Please take that advice in the generous spirit in which it is offered.

Update: I always give credit to the major Sacramento newspaper for allowing comments at the end of their online submissions. The seven who have commented so far are dead on, echoing many of the points I made here and adding others.


Erica said...

I cannot fathom why Mr. Acuna thought it was a good idea to bring this up again, and on Veteran's Day, and with specific instructions for the reader to ignore that. Ridiculous.

Ellen K said...

Because there are those in the media who are more interested in creating news than in reporting news. That is the argument I had with my journalism advisor over thirty years ago that led me to change majors. It's not about the truth. It's about pushing agendas and shaping the electorate. Goebbels would be proud.