Seattle Times and Crosscut: Dueling Death Watches

What happens when journalists cyber-scratch each other’s eyes out.

You're missing one of Seattle's better media scraps if you haven't stopped by the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild blog lately. It's a bit of journalistic eye-scratching and hair-pulling interrupted by an occasional exchange of left-handed compliments. Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd threw the first slap, a comment on a recent Crosscut piece by onetime SW contributor Bill Richards on the Times' sale of its Maine newspapers. No ill will intended, said Judd, but Richards "and Crosscut have about as much credibility on the 'Blethen Death Watch' story as Judith Miller on WMD."Citing Richards' other coverage of the Times' money problems and his arguably errant predictions—including a notion that the P-I, upon folding its print edition, would be published via electronic reader—Judd moaned, "On and on, wrong after wrong, with nary a correction or mea culpa. How many times can one person be wrong on the same story and still keep the beat?"Back came Richards with a witty jab to the ego: Judd's a smart guy, he noted, but "if the P-I isn't one of FirstPaper's initial [electronic reader] offerings and Hearst isn't hoping to eat Frank Blethen's lunch via this electronic back door, I'll read a year of Judd's back columns as penance." Answered Judd: "Why is every single Crosscut piece a myopic, carbon copy of the last, with the same recurring theme?...Here's an idea: How about a look at whether an interesting startup like Crosscut, staffed by experienced, smart people like Bill Richards, can be a profitable enterprise in its own right? Actually, the deteriorating financial status of Bill's employer is somewhat well known, too." (See "Crosscuts," SW, May 13. )Richards countered with a five-paragraph defense of his work, adding: "If Ron Judd is a pro—and I think he is—he knows how strongly reporters value their professional reputations. Neither Crosscut nor I owe any mea culpas for the stories I've done on the Times Co." To which Judd responded: "Wow. Most pros I know would simply state that their work stands for itself." With that, the dust is presently settling.

 
comments powered by Disqus