Thursday, April 20, 2006

L.A. Times' Hiltzik Anonymously Praises Own Blog?

Patterico's Pontifications has a fascinating article in which he lays out the case that Los Angeles Times blogger Michael Hiltzik has used assumed names to pad his own blog with positive comments as well as to comment on Patterico's blog.

Hiltzik today does not directly contradict Patterico's assertion, and seems to obliquely confirm it by defending commenting anonymously on blogs.

While it might be standard practice for some bloggers to blog or leave comments more or less anonymously -- for instance, my own blog does not publicly disclose my last name -- if Patterico's allegations are true, Hiltzik's practice of defending his own work under assumed names seems entirely inappropriate for a journalist blogging as part of his paid duties at a newspaper.

It is a telling commentary on Hiltzik's lack of confidence and/or lack of public support that he apparently feels the need to make his arguments and support his public persona under these multiple identities instead of standing up for his point of view under his own name.

L.A. Observed questions if what Patterico has done isn't rather akin to a journalist using an assumed name to write letters to the editor praising his own work. I think that's an apt observation. I believe a writer would be fired for engaging in such a deceptive practice, and if the case against Hiltzik holds up, I think the Times needs to take a very serious look at Hiltzik's journalistic ethics and whether he and/or his blog should continue at the paper.

I also believe the Times needs to add a paragraph prohibiting their employees from commenting on the same blogs under multiple names to their employee code of ethics. It's quite sad this even needs to be spelled out for Times employees, but there you have it.

Hugh Hewitt wants to know what the L.A. Times thinks of this. As one of the Times' rapidly dwindling number of paying subscribers, I want to know too.

Update: National Review's Media Blog and Hugh Hewitt have more. Representatives of the Times and the parent Tribune Co. declined to respond to Hugh's producer, Duane.

This afternoon I have emailed the Times' Reader Representative, identifying myself as both a subscriber and blogger, and asked that the Times respond with their position on Hiltzik's ethical practices if the allegations at Patterico's website are, in fact, true.

Further Update: Welcome to readers of Hugh Hewitt!

As mentioned in my post above, the Times' Reader Representative, Jamie Gold, sent me an email this afternoon containing the text about the blog's suspension published on the Times' website.

Thursday Night Update: Welcome to readers of The Asylum.


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