Darts Back at Ya

Dear AAN,

Two “darts” came at Columbia Journalism Review this week from your vicinity; neither were sharp enough to stick.

1. Richard Karpel complains about “Blogworld and its Gravity,” by Matt Welch, our exploration of the blogging phenomenon. The piece opens with a salvo at the culture of the “alternative newsweeklies,” and I can understand why an executive director of the Association for Alternative Newsweeklies would take exception to Welch’s arguments and observations. Fair enough. But instead Karpel pretends to take exception to Welch’s reporting.

For the record, the Welch/Karpel conversation that appears in the piece took place at an ANN conference well before we found Matt Welch or gave him an assignment, so it’s no surprise that Welch “never identified himself as a reporter.” He wasn’t yet on the job. Still, he has every right to use a conversation with a grown up journalist later on when he did get the assignment. Karpel says he “couldn’t have said” what Welch quotes him saying about the Florida Sun because he’s never seen the paper. But he certainly could have said it, since he was familiar with the conclusions that the AAN admissions committee had come to about the paper, as the piece makes clear. And so on. Karpel ought to wrestle with Welch’s points and arguments, not try to undermine a good reporter’s reputation.

2. Now Jeff Lawrence chimes in. He publishes Boston’s Weekly Dig, which we briefly and favorably profiled in the same issue. In the piece we erroneously said Dig got its name from Boston’s Big Dig construction project. This regrettable error came from clips and should have been checked with Lawrence. Now Lawrence says we DID check with him, that he set us straight, but that we nonetheless ignored his words. I doubt it. Both our writer, Gwen Shaffer, and our fact checker, John Ushman, independently and adamantly say they recall no such conversation. Go figure.

Michael Hoyt
Executive Editor
Columbia Journalism Review