Friday, June 03, 2005

Too Hot for Romenesko

One of the various "media watch" outfits that has completely ignored the CJR-Navasky controversy has been the widely followed Romenesko website, which is sponsored by the Poynter Institute media think tank.

On the day Editor & Publisher picked up the story from the David M blog, Romenesko ran a tiny link to the stories and that's that. No mention of the ironies or gross conflicts of interest involved.

It gets worse. Romenesko has won't even let his readers raise those issues either. A reader, Brenda Ross, sent a copy of a letter on the Navasky imbroglio to David M and this humble blog. Romenesko won't run the letter, as explained below the excerpt below. David M was quicker out of the starting gate, bless his heart, but I am going to run it anyway because it's a damn good letter -- even if it is too hot for Romenesko.

Excuse me, am I hallucinating, or has a blog--the "David M Blog" totally wiped up the floor with the media on a major story, and nobody is pretending to notice?

David M broke the story that Columbia Journalism Review has been secretly run by Victor Navasky, publisher of The Nation magazine. Navasky's involvement in CJR raises a host of disturbing questions--absolutely none of which has been raised by the mainstream media.

Among them: Is it proper for a person with such an identifiable political position, one that some might say is toward the far end of the spectrum, to play such a crucial role at a mainstream journalism review that purports to be dispassionate and unbiased? How can conservatives feel confidence in CJR with Navasky in such a role? Furthermore, doesn't the secrecy surrounding Navasky's role smack of "guilty knowledge"?

Another question that troubles me: How does this impact -- and how has this impacted-- upon CJR's treatment of controversies involving The Nation? Neither the CJR website nor print publication has touched the recent controversy surrounding the discovery that Ian Williams, The Nation's UN Correspondent, performed media training and other work for the UN while covering the UN. Did Navasky's role at CJR have any impact upon CJR's failure to cover that story? And even if CJR does get around to covering this story, won't whatever it does be tainted by Navasky's hidden role at CJR?

These are just some of the serious and troubling questions surrounding this issue, and so far they have only been explored in what is sometimes dismissed as the "blogosphere." That alone says a great deal about the journalism profession, none of it at all favorable.
Oh, and what pathetic, idiotic excuse did Romenesko give for not running the letter? He wrote back, before spiking this really intelligent letter, "Um, you might want to check my site. I have not one, but TWO links on this."

Um, excuse me Romenesko, but as Brenda wrote back to you, "that is precisely my point. In those two links--and otherwise a defeaning silence from the media--you have buried a huge embarrassment for the journalism profession, raising troubling questions have not been addressed."

And they won't be addressed--not on Romenesko. Unless, perhaps, he is less shame-deprived than he has been to this point. Brenda received no further replies from Romenesko, and her letter has remained on the spike as of this writing.

UPDATE: CJR Mentions Navasky!