Reporting and Punditry

REPORTING AND PUNDITRY….Avedon Carol alerted me yesterday to an ombudsman column in the Washington Post in which the Post’s national political editor whines about Dan Froomkin’s delightful daily web column:

Political reporters at The Post don’t like [web] columnist Dan Froomkin’s “White House Briefing,” which is highly opinionated and liberal. They’re afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.

John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, “The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset ? our credibility” as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column “that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display.”

Unfortunately, I got distracted and erased the post I wrote and didn’t feel like trying to recreate it at the time. Long story short, the whole thing sounded silly to me. Sure, some readers don’t know the difference between a reporter and a columnist, but some readers don’t know the difference between the front page and the op-ed page, either. It just goes with the territory, and I doubt that the title of Froomkin’s column has much to do with it.

Today, however, Atrios makes an even better point:

If editors and journalists are upset because the walls between punditry and reporting, between fair journalism and hackery, have been eroded and news consumers are confused they have no one to blame but themselves. Every week, if not every day, journalists appear on roundtable shows with pundits and partisan hacks, usually but not always conservative. Every day “reporters” go blabbing on Imus and Tweety (MSNBC is the worst offender for this for some reason), clearly stepping outside any clear boundaries between reporting and opining or speculating.

Yes indeedy. If you don’t want people to think that reporters have opinions, keep them away from shows that traffic primarily in opinion. That’s surely a much bigger deal than the “title and display” of Froomkin’s column.