er to challenge a bad policy -- I'd be willing to accept that he was wronged. Hell, I might even praise him as a champion of the First Amendment with courage in his conviction.

But from the limited facts available here, it appears that he's no First Amendment hero. He's just dumb. And a whiner.

Posted by: Mark at March 26, 2003 09:07 AM

Clarifying above: "... he was fired..." should read: "he had his column taken away:...

Posted by: Mark at March 26, 2003 09:14 AM

Mark -- It's an outrageous editorial policy, in my opinion. Note I didn't use the words "First Amendment."

Posted by: Matt Welch at March 26, 2003 09:38 AM

Matt:

Agreed, the policy is fodder for a useful debate over the proper role of advocacy and political participation by journos.

No-politicking policies for news-side reporters are typical at most newspapers and, in my view, necessary to manage credibility of the news-side. If a reporter is publicly advocating for one side over another in a public debate, it's awfully hard to argue that he/she doesn't have a conflict of interest in covering that debate.

It's a different story of course, for a columnist -- whose very mission is advocacy. (Personal aside: I wish more newspaper columnists would pursue good old fashioned advocacy rather than boring, masturbatory, overintellectualized punditry.)

It is of course a gray area in small newspapers where the two jobs are comingled. And it's shameful for the newspaper in question not to have dealt with the obvious contradiction between its policy and the dual assignment -- either the policy was bad, or the decision to dual-assign was bad.

Still, I'd have a lot more regard for his plight if he were confronting the policy rather than whining about the discipline.

Thanks for the response here, and for the overall forum.....

Posted by: Mark at March 26, 2003 10:38 AM

Another one, this time at the SF Chron:

http://www.poynter.org/forum/?id=letters

Posted by: mark at March 27, 2003 02:30 PM
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