Wednesday, March 09, 2005

City Pages Misses Half the Story

Paul Demko at City Pages cites this blog in an article today: Killer Moths Attack Strib!

Unfortunately, the story Demko is trying to milk today is a week old, and for some reason, Demko chose not to tell the entire story. Let’s help him out.

He gets the basics right. Hugh Hewitt did try to launch a “swarming the Strib” movement, assigning bloggers permanent beats covering the Star Tribune’s political coverage and exposing bias when found.

The problem is that, while the idea generated a bit of heat at the time Hewitt brought it up, it floundered within about twenty-four hours. Why? Well here is some of the commentary on the topic from the right side of the local blogosphere:

Margaret from Our House:

Hugh Hewitt wants us to start blogswarming the Strib (or the Star and Sickle, Red Star as it is affectionately known to conservatives in this state).

I think he's blogging up the wrong tree. He says we should swarm political writers like Dane Smith and Kevin Duchschere. But they aren't the problem. They are fair, hardnosed reporters. When they veer off it is usually because they are overdoing the middle of the road thing and overemphasizing some particular point of view. Or because they think it makes a more entertaining story.

David following up also at Our House:

I have friends who work at the Star Tribune, and I have never had a complaint about how any reporter has ever treated me.

And I have been dealing with these guys a LONG time. I trust their integrity implicitly.

Pat Lopez and Dane Smith are friends of mine, and Deborah Caufield Rybak has done excellent reporting on the tobacco settlement. I do have real problems with the track record of the Strib poll, and the editorial page is dominated by fruitcakes.

On this blog, I noted Hewitt’s plan to Swarm the Strib, but in the same post I plugged this post from What If? describing a meeting Peg Kaplan had with Star Tribune news editor, Anders Gyllenhaal. Among Peg’s observations:

While chatting with Anders, I realized that the majority of my anger came not so much with those who produced the news portions of the paper, but with the editorial pages. And, being a true ignoramus when it comes to how a paper is run, I didn’t realize that Anders had nothing – nothing – to do with those *&$% opinions that appeared each day!

So. My visit to the bowels of the Strib was a most educational experience for me. I learned that the guy at the top really cares and is devoted to his work. Anders clearly seems to have an open mind, too – unlike, uh, some other divisions in Strib-land. And, the editor also is obviously someone willing to go the extra mile to please his customers.

From Craig Westover:

In other words, if we can’t win the hearts and minds of the people with our own ideas, at least we can bludgeon the opposition's management and advertisers and shut them up.

Hugh’s idea smacks of boycott to me, which strikes me as just a tad bit collective for the people that supposedly support the notion of individualism.

King Banaian at SCSU Scholars added:

It seems as if the initial reaction to Swarm the Strib, an idea Hugh Hewitt broached on the air last night has, in the light of day, found cooler heads. ... After being out until 10:30 last night I flipped on my Replay Radio to listen to Hugh discuss the idea, listened to his callers (and note the new blog of a listener) and thought it sounded like amateur hour.

So while Hugh’s notion sounded great to some at first blush, it was quickly dropped. Hugh Hewitt hasn’t even mentioned it again, as far as I’ve heard. While many local conservative bloggers found plenty of reason to complain about the editorial pages of the Star Tribune, there simply wasn't much outrage about the basic reporting that rose above the level of "we don't subscribe to the Star Tribune." Hardly sufficient enthusiasm to get Hugh's proposed "blog swarm" off the ground.

Craig Westover noticed this same story today, and sent Mr. Demko an e-mail, noting:

From the comments I've received, with but a few exceptions, Minnesota bloggers have rejected Hewitt's call for organized action. To my knowledge, he hasn't mentioned it again on his radio show or posted about it, although I admit I am not a regular listener or reader.

In fairness, I think your article should have mentioned that while individually critical of the Star Tribune, the blogger community in Minnesota as a whole has rejected the tactic of digitally shouting down the opposition.
Good point. It remains to be seen if the ommision was intentional or simply left out because Demko didn't know about the rest.

If you're reading this Paul, feel free to chime in on that point.


Blogger pinkmonkeybird said...

It's rather surprising that such an influential orchestrator of the right such as Hugh would be met with such indifference per this idea. After all, Power Line recently noted that Hugh is a true visionary.
But, while Hugh's idea is a good one (excellent, even) it is missing one primary ingredient for the stew to cook; a spark to light the flame.
If we look at the amazing results of MemoGate and EasonGate and yes, LottGate, they were all sparked by a specific outrage.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I love Hugh. He's the only national radio guy I will make time to listen to rather than just switch on the radio to see who is on. That being said, I don't always agree with him. His Target boycott in the wake of canning the Sallies didn't go over so well either amongst the Northern Alliance. Why? My theory: the Northern Alliance leans more libertarian than Hugh, who is openly an evangelical conservative, not a libertarian. Not that these strands are always in conflict, in fact they seldom are here in MN. But in the Target case you had a private business choosing not to privilege a specific non-profit. In the ST case you had a call for a blanket, collective action against a paper that even Hugh would admit employs a frequent contributor of his, James Lileks. Both of those actions clash with the libertarian conservative ethos. Lots of people had lots of arguments, not the least of them practical but I think here-in lies the problem.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Winston Churchill was said to have had "ten brilliant ideas a day" and the job of one of the high-ups around him was to talk him out of nine of those. The idea of the Strib becoming an intelligent and all-viewpoints paper, or almost anything other than what its editorial ourlook encompasses, is very good. For it to happen as Hugh suggested meant a dedicated Strib Hughalanche, or a FlowntotheRollalanche or someone-alanche, almost daily, if not weekly. Assignments, posts etc. I just think we're not joiners; I'm certainly not. I'd rather write about what interests me. The Strib will be well covered regardless.

7:20 PM  

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