Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Cardiac kids (continued)

Whether the Bush and Cheney stories are responsible journalism, scandalous rumor-mongering, or both depends on whom you ask. Bob Steele, director of the Poynter Institute’s Ethics Program, takes the cautious view. Although he did not comment specifically on the Hallmark or Marshall items, Steele told me, "If bloggers create rumors that cause harm, that’s a disservice. It leads to erosion of trust for other forms of information, it can lead to badly informed opinions, it can produce misguided actions by some, it can cause problems for people’s reputations, it can in some ways erode the fabric of a civil society." He also notes that a blogger such as Marshall, who works as a journalist, has a higher burden than someone who doesn’t, since Marshall’s blogging could reflect on the reputation of the media organizations for which he works.

Eric Alterman, who writes a media column for the Nation and who produces the Altercation blog for MSNBC.com, told me by e-mail, "I try to maintain the same journalistic standards on my site as I do on paper. I did link to a story about Bush’s defibrillator, without endorsing it; I said it’s worth looking into. Seems to me to be a legitimate subject for inquiry and the link I provided did not strike me as nuts. I’d do the same in a newspaper." Alterman added that other media — he specifically cited the New York Post and Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly — have their own problems with accuracy and standards. So it’s not entirely an Internet thing.

My own take is that there ought to be a way to vet reasonable-sounding but speculative stories such as these, and that the Internet is an ideal medium for that. But if the mainstream media fail to follow up, we’ll never know whether there was anything to them or not. I think both of these stories warrant further digging. Maybe that’s already taking place, and we just haven’t seen the results yet. I hope so. With an administration as secretive as Bush’s, we need as many avenues to the truth as possible.

THE PRINCIPALS are saying little, but there are signs that all is not well between the Boston Herald and columnist Mike Barnicle, hired last March in the hopes of providing a jolt to the struggling tabloid. Many Herald staffers were appalled that publisher Pat Purcell would bring in Barnicle and pay him a reputed six-figure salary, especially given that Barnicle’s 1998 plagiarism-and-fabrication-fueled departure from the Boston Globe came about in part because of the Herald’s reporting on his transgressions (see "Media," This Just In, March 12, 2004).

All Barnicle had to do was prove everyone wrong. But newsroom sources say he hasn’t even made the attempt. He is essentially an unseen presence in the newsroom, calling in his twice-weekly column to upper management. His mail is said to be overflowing from the desk with which he was thoughtfully provided. And when I attempted to leave Barnicle a message seeking comment, I was put through to editorial director Ken Chandler’s office. A spokeswoman told me that Barnicle’s voice-mail was full, and that there was no way I could leave a message for him at the Herald. He did respond to an e-mail, from which I quote below.

According to Herald sources, frustration with Barnicle came to a head the week before Christmas. On Monday, December 20, the Globe led its front page with a report that former FBI agent John Connolly — in federal prison for helping organized-crime figure James "Whitey" Bulger to elude authorities — was hoping to win his freedom by informing on a fellow inmate who had allegedly confessed to him about a murder he’d committed. Later that day, Barnicle turned in his column for Tuesday’s Herald. The subject, according to my sources: John Connolly and his role in, well, informing on a fellow inmate who had allegedly confessed to him about a murder he’d committed. Barnicle supposedly told his dumbfounded editors that he’d known about the story for some time, but that Connolly had sworn him to secrecy. No surprise there: Barnicle’s friendship with former UMass president Bill Bulger, Whitey Bulger’s brother, is well known, as is Barnicle’s sympathy toward Connolly.

But what happened next may have surprised Barnicle. The editors killed his column — pretty rude treatment for a guy who’d been brought in as the savior just 10 months earlier.

Barnicle’s lazy, dashed-off column has been a source of grumbling among Herald staffers since he started writing it. Hired in the hopes that he would bring in readers and provide access and energy, he has done none of those things. From a sheer numbers point of view, the Herald’s average weekday circulation for the six months ending last September 30 — a period coinciding with Barnicle’s comeback — was 240,759, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, down a few hundred from the previous September.

And some staffers still shake their heads over Barnicle’s performance during the Democratic National Convention last July, when he was seen on at least one occasion sitting with Senator John Kerry — the get of the week, obviously — yet failed to write it up. More recently, Barnicle was said to have expressed his anger over the Herald’s front-page treatment of WBZ-TV (Channel 4) sportscaster (and Barnicle buddy) Bob Lobel’s reputed marital woes.

In response to an e-mail seeking comment, Barnicle declined to answer a question about his Connolly column. "I don’t discuss the internal dynamic or gossip of anyplace I’m employed with outsiders, and I’m not about to start now," he told me. As for his anger over the Lobel piece, he said, "I was upset for my friend Bob Lobel not anyone working for the Herald." And he concluded with this: "Ordinarily, I might try to be more helpful to someone working on a story but I’m told that every time you’ve written about me over the past decade it’s never been good."

Neither Purcell nor Chandler returned calls seeking comment. But obviously this wasn’t what Purcell was looking for when he risked the wrath of his newsroom to bring Barnicle into the fold.

page 2  page 3  page 4 

Issue Date: January 7 - 13, 2005
Click here for the Don't Quote Me archive
Back to the News & Features table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group