That's pretty much the response I get when I express my disbelief to people (who don't want to string me up, that is) at the


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Why is everyone so mad about the Real Change story?

That's pretty much the response I get when I express my disbelief to people (who don't want to string me up, that is) at the rancor of the negative responses to my story about Real Change vendors.  Anyway, would you believe me if I said I was taken aback by all the hubbub?  Because I am.  In fact, it's very difficult not to take some of the personal attacks, well, personally.  (Don't worry, I know there's no crying in journalism.  Even my own mother says I'm too naive.)  But it's becoming increasingly difficult to parse the comments based on the story's journalism from those based on a reader's (incomprehensible, to me) anger. 

What I find most confounding about the ad hominem attacks against me and the story (and, I guess, the paper by extension, though I'm new enough to not really have any dog in the New Times v. Independent Papers fight) is their line of argument.  I wonder, do these furious people realize that what they're saying—Real Change is infallible, you’re not allowed to question Real Change, and any questioning of Real Change brands the questioner as evil and an enemy of charity, altruism, and welfare—is the same tactic the White House employs when it comes to promoting a political agenda that these same people, I think it’s safe to assume, vehemently oppose?  And in so doing, obfuscates the larger questions explored by the story, such as Real Change's role in addressing homelessness, what to do--if anything--with vendors who have more or less maxed out, how Real Change's policies play out on the street?  (The unquestioned fact that Real Change doesn't hide that not all of its vendors are homeless doesn't necessarily mean everyone knows about it.)  What happened to civility, reason, logic, and the consideration of unpopular views?  At the expense of exposing my personal politics, I now feel really weird about privately celebrating these very people back on a Tuesday night in November. 

As for how I feel about Tim Harris' reactions, I guess this means we won't be clinking tumblers of Glenlivet anytime soon.  I'll admit that I find them personally hurtful (no crying in newspapering, though) and professionally dubious (I just can't get around the fact that a professional journalist--and please don't read this as snark, like I'm saying it in quotes or something, because I assume everyone who makes a living through running a newspaper is a professional journalist, which I assure you is not snark either...oh, what's the point?--would dismiss a story that had yet to be even written and slag a reporter for asking tough questions, which is, like, one of the pillars of journalism), though as a PR strategy, I can sort of understand his intentions. 

I also can't help but wonder what people would have thought of the story independent of Tim Harris' reactions, both before and after the story ran (or, if I want to play victim, too, if the story ran in a non-New Times publication).  But that's an empirical question we'll never be able to answer.

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