Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dems planning "Google bomb?"

I saw this on a story idea blog I frequent called Al's Morning meeting.

He was pitching a story about Democrats launching a "Google bomb" right before Election Day.

What is a Google bomb? Here is a primer, but basically it means placing the most negative stories possible at the top of Google searches on Republican candidates.

What will they think of next?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The bag

We've taken at least one call about the bag in which The Star was delivered today. The outside of the bag is an advertisement for Wes Westmoreland, who is running for state senate.

The bag containing The Star is always for sale to advertisers, political or otherwise.

Democrats have just as much of a chance to purchase that space as Republicans and vice-versa.

Our coverage of this or any other race is in no way affected by the purchase of this non-traditional form of advertising. Just like our coverage isn't affected by who purchases an ad on a typical news page inside the paper.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dean Smith doesn't get it

Here is an excerpt from an AP story moving today:

Legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith says in a planned newspaper ad campaign that being a person of faith and voting Democratic can go together.
``I'm a lifelong Baptist and vote for Democrats,'' Smith says in the ad. ``One reason? Democrats are serious about alleviating poverty.''
Smith declined comment about the ad.
The campaign is the product of Devout Democrats, a new Chapel Hill-based political action committee headed by University of North Carolina law student Chip Muller.

I fail to see how stealing other people's money and giving it to the poor is in anyway aligned with the teaching of Jesus. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus say: "Take the shirt off your back and give it to the poor and if your neighbor won't voluntarily give his shirt, take it from him yourself." Democrats want to allieviate poverty through coercion and theft. Those are NOT Christian tenets.

Even if the philosophical point wasn't indefensible, there is the practical reality that liberal "poverty reduction" programs have never worked and will never work.

Stick to hoops, coach.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Foley scandal

Lots of talk in media circles about the Foley scandal. I was an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Insitute a few years back -- we maintain a listserv which fires up during these types of situations. Here is a post I made in response to journalist who didn't buy the explanation by the St. Pete Times regarding why it didn't publish a story on the matter some time back.

I'm trying to understand the "blew it" position. Having trouble.

As I understand it, here are the facts the Times and Co. had in front of them:

A U.S. Congressmen sent e-mails to a page.

They were friendly and, for the most part, harmless (Katrina, etc.) The most incriminating part of the e-mails was when the congressmen requested a "pic."

There was nothing sexual in the e-mails obtained by the Times.

The page questioned whether the e-mails were "out of bounds," asking a staffer in another congressman's office.

The page, when interviewed, said the request for a picture made him "uncomfortable."

The family did not want the page named

Later, the family said, through a different congressman, they did not want to pursue a story.

Not only did the paper not find a pattern, but the only other page it could find did not have a similar experience.

The congressman in question denied anything untoward.

If I were the editor, relying on these facts, it would have been an easy call: No publication.

As Poynter has taught us so many times, it's about balancing benefit and harm. There was only a whiff of evidence that something improper was going on here. Yet, publication of a story would have immediately painted the congressman as a pervert, no matter how carefully and discreetly the story was reported. To me, it's way too easy to draw a line back from the final outcome and claim the story should have been published. Maybe I'm missing some evidence that the papers had, but based on what I've read, it fell way short of publishable material.

Skip Foster