September 21, 2003
THE SACRAMENTO BEE HAS CAVED TO SPECIAL INTERESTS and muzzled its house blogger Daniel Weintraub. They should be ashamed — and I don’t want to hear any whining from them the next time their publisher is heckled. Utterly lame. And, as Mickey Kaus points out, hypocritical: “If Arnold had complained, do you suppose the Bee would have strapped an editor on DW’s back?”
Of course not That would have been censorship.
UPDATE: Robert Tagorda writes:
I vehemently oppose this decision. It ignores the entire point of blogging. As Weintraub himself noted when he introduced his new format, “Blogs by their nature are more spontaneous than traditional commentary.” The Bee, as well as its readers, clearly knew that his posts would bypass the typical route to publication. With the new policies, the paper might as well just rid itself of the blog.
It also might as well just shoot itself on the foot, because it’s giving up perhaps its biggest recall-coverage advantage over its competitors. One of the main reasons why the Bee has been a better source than, say, the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle is its fresh and constant updates via California Insider. The reviews will slow down the news breaks and take away the Bee’s most attractive feature.
Weintraub is the only reason I’ve been reading the Bee.
Matt Welch observes:
Bee Ombudsman Tony Marcano has written a stinker of a column proudly explaining how his paper has caved to Latino complaints about the valuable recall-blogger Daniel Weintraub, who will now no longer be allowed to post without being edited. . . .
Weintraub is an opinion columnist. He is being paid to dispense opinion (albeit, chock full o’ insidery Sacramento observations), and he is being punished in this case for an opinionated assertion, not a botched indisputable fact. And he is being punished as a direct result of an interest group complaining about his opinion. Whether it had been an auto dealer, or the English-Only crowd, or the Latino Caucus, the proper response to such a complaint, in my view, is, “He’s a valued opinion columnist, and this was his opinion. We will certainly pass along your concerns, and even suggest he engage them on his blog. Please consider writing a letter to the editor. Good-bye.”
Welch adds that the Bee is now “one or two notches less credible.” To which I’d add three notches less interesting.
Unthinking political correctness, corporate-mandated dullness, and complete cluelessness, all in one event. If you want to know, in a nutshell, why Old Media is in trouble, this is it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, “defending The Bee” may be a bit too strong. Let’s say “adding nuance to The Bee’s position.”
Roger Simon, on the other hand, wonders if this illustrates Big Media’s inherent inability to take advantage of the blog format.