Ten Little Editors

We have been discussing how Verify the Recall’s only purpose was to have a searchable database of people who signed the recall petition, so they could be harassed and intimidated.    The latest version was the story of the Wausau Daily Herald checking VTR, and disciplining the employees they find.

Well it turns out I jumped the gun a little bit and there is more to the story.   It turns out in today’s paper’s it turns out there was a pattern.   H/T Jim Romenesko: 

But first a brief interlude.  As a kid, I was a big fan of the Flintstones and One of my favorite episodes was called “Ten Little Flintstones”. 

Chaos reigns supreme when ten androids from another planet–all whom are dead-ringers for Fred–land in Bedrock causing havoc in an attempt to conquer the earth. When the alien master admits failure and recalls the androids, Fred is left to explain his odd behavior.

A bunch of Fred Flintstons run around, wreaking havoc on Bedrock and only saying “Yabba, Dabb, Doo” while the real Fred has no idea whats happening, except that everyone is mad at him.

Ok back to todays op-ed’s. We brought you

Mark Treinen from the Wausau Daily Herald:

Journalists can and do voice their opinions about political issues with their colleagues, friends or family. Journalists can and do vote in elections. Those actions are appropriate.

Yabba Dabba Doo

Now on Richard Roesgen of the FDL Reporter:

Journalists can and do voice their opinions about political issues with their colleagues, friends or family. Journalists can and do vote in elections. Those actions are appropriate.

Yabba Dabba Doo

Kevin Corrado from Green Bay Press Gazette:

Journalists can and do voice their opinions about political issues with their colleagues, friends or family. Journalists can and do vote in elections. Those actions are appropriate.

Yabba Dabba Doo

Genia Lovett from the Appleton Post Crescent:

A number of the journalists told us they did not consider signing the petition a political act. They equated it to casting a ballot in an election, something they have every right to do. But we see a distinction.

Yabba Dabba Doo

This from Plagiarism.org:

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to “plagiarize” means

to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
to commit literary theft
to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

A story showing up in every Gannett paper with almost the same words, written by someone we do not know, the majority who endorsed Scott Walker, telling their readers they searched VTR for employees and the ones who signed “will be disciplined”.

Then they wonder why newspaper readership has declined?



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17 thoughts on “Ten Little Editors

  1. Thanks for the follow up, as I mentioned yesterday, I briefly went to the other Gannett papers and found similar articles about Judges who signed or Gannett employees who signed the recall petitions. I’m not so sure that “plagiarism,” is what was going on there though.

    My guess is more like an orchestrated, top-down memo from ownership or from regular advertisers to ownership at the top level in the state, meant to fan the flames of distraction from the objects of the recall, Walker and four state Senators. Purposeful diffusion of the focus rather than plagiarism amongst the Gannett editorial troops. An attempt to steer the state discussion away from the real culprits, perhaps?

    1. Oh, and hopefully anyone inspired to write a letter to the Gannett editors will use my idea and then politely tell them where to go. Permission formally granted.

  2. I am sure that someone from the top sent out the directive, however, they could have used their own words….

    At least Genia did for the most part, however she lost me when she was patting herself on the back for finding judges names on he recall and falsely labeled it “investigative journalism” whne in reality it was McCarthyism.

  3. Morning Jeff, A little OT

    I have refrained from visiting VTR. Perhaps you know if email addresses appear in that online work. I have been getting a whole bunch more spam the last eight weeks than I ever did. I had a thought that enterprising spammers would certainly have used the gold mine of public information if they had a chance, not just GOP operatives.

    1. E-mail addresses and phone numbers shouldn’t be on anything that the VTR people had, because they were pulling from the GAB website, and the petitions sent to the GAB didn’t include the e-mails and phone numbers. When the recall organizers prepared the petitions for the GAB, they stamped the pages, photocopied them, and then sliced off the end of the original pages that had e-mails and phone numbers before sending the originals off to the GAB. The Dems and affiliated groups entered the petition info (including phones and e-mails) into their own database, of course. They only finished entering the data last week, so whatever the spam uptick is, it’s probably not from that.

      1. Appreciate the info, I certified quite a few petitions and had suspected that the dems and United Wisconsin simply updated the VAN.

  4. No I have not seen any email addresses and as someone who collected signatures I never asked either.

    That beings said having this searchable database does leave people open for identity theft so we will see if we start hearing those stories. Which of course would be icing on the cake for the VTR people.

  5. This is why the WisGOP pressed for the GAB’s creation of a searchable database. They wanted the extra information, they wanted to be able to intimidate their enemies and confirm conformity among anyone close to them who seemed suspicious.

    Similarly, VTR/TTV has recruited volunteers to again create valuable information where there was none. They solicited names of people who said they didn’t sign, creating a valuable list of GOP supporters. They solicited volunteers to enter names – again, probable supporters. The volunteers created lists of names of people who signed, but they didn’t do that job very well, which is why Walker et al didn’t simply hand the GAB their list of flagged names.

    Do you think VTR/TTV knew the volunteer process didn’t work very well? I think they did. They were seeking the value of the other two lists as well. And who knows how they’ll use or resell them? There were no disclaimers on their web to tell you how your name might be used.

    1. I signed the recall petition, but my name doesn’t show up on VTR. Maybe that’s why I’m getting so many calls from the Wis GOP lately.

      Like Saturday, when I told the lady on the phone that I thought Walker was doing a bad job, that I wouldn’t vote for him in the recall, and that I was a Republican. She sounded surprised. Hope they keep calling.

      1. I wonder if it was the same lady who called me. When I started answering the Walker question and didn’t stop, I warned her not to hang up on me, because she had initiated the call and I was not finished telling her what I thought of Walker. She hung up on me, anyway. 😉

  6. Exactly John. Thats my point here and shame on the media for buying into that and doing the GOP’s work for them.

    To seriously “discipline” a copy editor for signing the petition. What the hell are they thinking?

    the only point they are really making is why everyone needs a union!!

  7. Anyone who has tried to lead the charge on any issue vaguely political knows there’s always people who will tell you to be quiet, sit down, go home and mow your lawn.

    Certainly there are journalists who take the personal position that they believe their public expression of politics would affect some people’s perception of their work.

    I’ve also seen some judges, ministers, school superintendents, district attorneys, and even their spouses, who don’t want to be seen in public holding a drink in their hand. But others don’t give it a second thought.

  8. As someone who’s worked in that bidness, I’ll offer a qualified defense of Gannett’s stupidity. This stuff doesn’t come out of a political motive per se – i.e., a desire to stamp out left-leaning expression or criticism of Scott Walker. It stems from a demented, quasi-religious misunderstanding of “objectivity.”

    That in turn is an outgrowth of mid-20th century marketing imperatives: to avoid pissing off segments of the mass audience being sold to advertisers. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen calls it “the production of innocence.” It’s what also drives mealy-mouthed, “he-said, she-said” reporting, in which no conclusions are drawn about who’s right and who’s crazy and where evolution and global warming are still scientific debates.

    What’s amazing is that news organizations persist in this defunct model despite the obvious fact that it’s precisely what pisses off their audience. The wingnuts aren’t going to be suddenly convinced by Gannett’s hairshirting that its staff aren’t socialists. In fact, they’ll use this episode as evidence. And just about everyone else is going to sympathize with the staff, because their bosses are also ham-handed idiots.

    1. That, and the belief that only the folks on the editorial board are qualified (!) and thoughtful (!) enough to represent a political opinion.

      1. Yup. The editorial firewall is another bizarre notion born out of business imperatives now taken as gospel.

  9. http://www.badgerflats.com/pdfs/Code_of_Ethics_for_Gannett_Newspaper_Division.pdf

    “Ensuring the Truth Principle
    “Seeking and reporting the truth in a truthful way” includes, specifically:
    n We will not lie.
    n We will not misstate our identities or intentions.
    n We will not fabricate.
    n We will not plagiarize.
    n We will not alter photographs to mislead readers.
    n We will not intentionally slant the news.”

    On that plagiarize one…..Looks like they are all violating a very key ethics code principle. Oh the hipocrasy…

    As the Queen of Hearts would say, “Off with their heads!” ;-D

  10. So what about the Gannett workers who signed petitions to recall Senate Dems like Dave Hansen last year? Are they going to be taken to the woodshed, too?

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