Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Definitions, Definitions, and Definitions

A debate that has seen some ink (electrons?) here at SwanBlog and elsewhere in the blogosphere has taken a turn for the absurd. I no longer have interest in the debate itself. But I would like to point out the absurdity. Here is an analogous debate:

SMITH: Johnson is a really bad dude. He hops into vehicles that do not belong to him and drives them to a location that is out of view of the public. He does this multiple times during the night and makes a tidy profit doing so.

SWANBLOG: You make it sound like "Gone in 60 Seconds." I hate to break it to you. Johnson is not a car thief. Johnson is a parking valet. Yes, he does it for money, but the car owner gives permission for the transaction. You are trying to create a scandal where none exists.

SMITH: Aha! I never said "car thief." I never said "scandal." SwanBlog apparently came to these conclusions after looking at the facts. Gotcha!

SWANBLOG: Someone in the comments section used the word "larceneee" (sic). Obviously, you were implying that Johnson steals cars.

SMITH: It's official. Johnson is a car thief. Even SwanBlog came to this scandalous conclusion. Johnson must answer for himself.


Blogger Peter said...

"Smith" apparently read the post and saw himself -- even though his blog is not mentioned. Using Smith logic, that means that he is admitting to the conclusions above.

September 21, 2005 9:52 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

The Star Tribune's response that there is no merit to the complaint about Kersten's column is quoted here:

Norwegianity copies text from an e-mail by Anders Gyllenhaal (gasp). I thought copying from an e-mail was a no no!

At least Norwegianity gets it right that the quotes were Jim Lodoen's own, not SwanBlog's. In so doing, though, he makes reference to "Lodoen's blog." I guess that means me.

Norwegianity also complains that Gyllenhaal fails to address the "close relationship" beteen Kersten, Lodoen, and Scott Johnson of Powerline. The "close relationship" is that Lodoen is a friend of Scott's coworker. Lodoen also once attended a lecture sponsored by Kersten's old employer and asked a question during the Q and A. Talk about six degrees of separation.

September 23, 2005 6:20 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Here's the Star Tribune response posted at Norwegianity:

The paper is always interested in criticism and takes complaints of any kind seriously. This is one of the reasons we have long had a reader representative position and hold every staff members to high standards of accuracy and precision. When we looked into the concerns raised about Katherine Kersten’s column, we found that the complaints were without basis.

The column she wrote last week was based on three interviews with the subject, Jim Lodoen, who had also written down his recollections of the trip that he shared with Kersten and had posted on a website. Katherine drew from her interviews and used his written comments to compile the story of his trip. As is often the practice in our newsroom, she went over the quotes with Lodoen, as the primary source for the piece, before filing the story to make certain she had every word right.

The complaints about this column suggest there’s something wrong with the work because the story is similar to the email notes. That would of course be the case, since both are coming from the same place. In at least one instance, Katherine’s interviews with Lodoen cleared up some confusion in his notes, and she wrote the story as he determined it happened. Another suggestion is that there’s something wrong with the column because parts of the story circulated on the internet before it appeared on the paper. Newspaper stories can originate in every imaginable place, including accounts on the internet. The job of the newspaper is to seek out what’s happened, confirm its accuracy and run stories that our readers will be interested in. This is exactly what happened in this case.

Anders Gyllenhaal

September 24, 2005 10:44 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

With respect to a comment above, Norwegianity writes:

"You can nitpick these things to death (like the fact that we’re talking two degrees of separation tops), but this statement doesn’t say there isn’t a relationship, it just mentions two peripheral aspects of some of the relationships involved. Based on this, how on earth did Kersten ever hear of Lodoen’s story? Obviously there are more ties here than SwanBlog cares to delve into."

How indeed? Magic of the Internet, I suppose. Perhaps it is the little e-mail address posted on the bottom of her columns. As I state elsewhere in this blog, Kersten is a friend. Scott Johnson is a friend. But this particular story did not come about as a result of those relationships.

The issue is not one of attribution -- Kersten interviewed Lodoen three times and gave him credit for the quotes -- but the common blog practice of giving a "hat tip" to the first person to link to another source. Given my readership, it is doubtful that she first learned about the story from SwanBlog. I also hear from a friend in the Second Congressional District that the e-mail was forwarded to Kersten, independent of this blog. In any event, there is no crime. Only lingering anger from the leftwing nuts that Kersten was hired in the first place. It is an interesting side note that Norwegianity initially failed to mention SwanBlog's role in the story, when this blog is supposedly the victim! Like Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get no respect.

Finally, this blog (following the lead of others) has criticized Nick Coleman for many things, but getting a sweet deal to return to the Star Tribune is not among them. I still want to know how he knew the guy sitting near him at Catholic mass was Muslim.

September 26, 2005 7:22 AM  

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