So… former Seattle Times senior political reporter David Postman, perhaps the most respected and influential political journalistic in the state not too long ago, a man who once took umbrage at my relentless (and sometimes mean-spirited) critique of his profession, and who now pays the bills as a spokesman for Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., has an article up on Crosscut of all places, criticizing the never-for-profit opinion and sorta-news site for running misleading and “demonstrably false” articles about the Mercer Mess, and of course, his employer’s role in it.
Sorry about the run-on sentence, but… that’s just plain weird.
At the time Postman announced his change of careers, I quipped that if many more journalists left the profession to pursue jobs in media relations, pretty soon there wouldn’t be any media left to relate to, so it doesn’t really surprise me to see the PR/journalism ecosystem collapse to the point where PR flacks, once confined to the sphere of influencing journalists, are now directly posting newsish pieces to newsish sites in an effort to get their bosses’ message out. Sure, he and the Crosscut editors repeatedly disclaim Postman’s obvious conflict of interest, so in some ways, it’s not all that much different from a more traditional guest column or a letter to the editor, but promoted out there on the Crosscut home page with the rest of their journalistish headlines, it just doesn’t feel like a guest column or a letter to the editor. It feels, like I said, weird. I mean, this is David Postman, for chrissakes.
Not that I’m all that sure that there is anything ethically wrong with the piece, disclaimed as such, or even all that different from what I do here at HA (which I once jokingly described as a one-man, pro bono PR firm for Washington state’s progressive community). But then, unlike Crosscut, I’ve never pretended HA deserved any more inherent respect than its content merited, and I’ve certainly never enjoyed the credibility of a David Postman. And perhaps more importantly, while I congratulate Postman for wearing his bias on his sleeve and trusting readers to judge his words in that context, as I have always done, my readers have always been able to rest assured that my bias is at least my own, rather than being bought and paid for by, say, Paul Allen, while Postman’s newfound Crosscut audience… not so much. That may strike some as a subtle difference, but one which, nonetheless, gave me the willies.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Postman and Crosscut have done anything wrong, just that by giving him a byline, they’ve done something very, very different… so different journalistically, that it at the very least deserves a collective, reflective pause. Crosscut has long claimed to be an “online newspaper” (an oxymoron considering the intrinsic absence of paper, not to mention the dearth of, well, news), and with all the inherent perceptions and expectations that word implies. But at a traditional newspaper, Postman’s response would have been clearly published as a guest column under the byline of say, Paul Allen or some other Vulcan executive, or perhaps a pro-Mercer-fix public figure willing to serve as a surrogate. It may still have been ghostwritten by Postman — that’s a pretty damn common arrangement (hell, even I’ve ghostwritten a handful of Seattle Times guest columns over the years, and nobody’s been the wiser) — but it sure as hell wouldn’t have had Postman’s byline on it.
Why does that matter? Because by putting his name on the piece, Postman, widely known and rightly respected by the media and political establishment as one of our state’s best reporters, hasn’t just sold his employers his skills as a writer, he’s implicitly imbued his critique of Crosscut’s reporting with his own well-earned journalistic credibility. In this brave new world of media relations, where it is now both possible and preferable to skip the relations part entirely, and pump one’s unfiltered message straight into the media, Vulcan didn’t just buy themselves a capable spokesman or mere PR flack… with Postman, they bought themselves their very own journalist.
And that’s different… at least from the kind of media familiar to American consumers for much of the past century, and ironically, from the kind of media Postman used to vigorously defend. PR flacks have always been hired guns, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when they start directly writing our news and commentary themselves, and under their own bylines, we’re looking at an entirely different kind of gunfight.
Which may or may not be a bad thing for both the media and its consumers. It’s just that coming from Crosscut and David Postman of all people, this sort of journalistic innovation (in lieu of a less neutral word) simply struck me as awfully damn weird.
Obama's Teleprompter spews:
Goldy – ever wonder why Postman’s journalistic skill is raking in big $$ and respect for him while your journalistic skill leaves you begging for periodic donations to pay for the electricity to keep your server turned on?
Curious George spews:
“my readers have always been able to rest assured that my bias is at least my own, rather than being bought and paid for by, say, Paul Allen”
Which is what makes it so curious that you appear to have an arrangement of some sort with Microsoft. The location search puzzles posted here every Sunday — what do you get for them? Do they cover or contribute to the hosting or bandwidth for this site? Anything to disclose?
It looks like Washington could take a huge chunk out of the state’s deficit if we could just get Microsoft to pay their state taxes. (See http://news.slashdot.org/story.....gton-State , http://www.guardian.co.uk/tech.....-questions )
I’d be real curious to hear your take on that idea. I think your analysis of the structural tax base problems we face here is right on, and that it must be fundamentally changed, and likewise I think requiring Microsoft to fulfill their responsibility to be a good corporate citizen would benefit the state and its citizens (who have nurtured Microsoft and its employees into what it is today) in this dire fiscal situation.
Roger Rabbit spews:
Paul Allen is so incompetent in business there’s nothing to fear from him. It may have been his intention to buy himself a PR flack to further his selfish interests, but he’ll end up donating Postman’s services to the community. He’s already donated about half of his Microsoft fortune to the customers of his 300 or so money-losing businesses.
That Sunday feature is the creation of Lee, another HA blogger, and it originated at his old blog before taking it to HA.
You mean the Birds Eye View posts? Lee posts them, and if you have any suggestions on how to squeeze some money out Microsoft from it, I’d love to hear ’em.
As for the state squeezing MS to pay its fair share of revenues, I don’t think the B&O is the way to do it. A personal income tax would at least tax executives, employees and local shareholders as they pulled profits out of company.
reporters turned PR flacks write news
representatives turned lobbyists write legistlation
It’s pretty clear nowadays that Postman’s former employer wasn’t exactly without bias. The tightrope act of dealing with pressure from Uncle Frank to…er, “adjust” things his way while still maintaining a veneer of “journalistic integrity” must have been a real challenge.
@4 It’s quite possible that that’s exactly what Paul wants to do.
I Got Nuthin' spews:
I think the oddest sentence from Postman’s commentary is
Honestly, by bringing attention to this Goldy has probably helped increase traffic to Crosscut by, well, infinity.
@4 Yeah, Allen is so incompetent at business that he started with nothing and is now one of the richest men in the world.
Damn, I wish I were that incompetent.
If you want to rip him for his numerous failed and failing ventures, fine, but those wouldn’t even have been possible without his one stratospheric success. Can’t discount that. He can, and probably will, churn out failing business ideas the rest of his life and will still never have to worry about his credit rating.
‘critique of his profession’
Before you have any validity in doing that, I suggest you get a “profession” of your own there Goldy, or at least work!
The Clabber Girl (check out my dirndl) spews:
I was once on Paul Allen’s converted WW II minesweeper/yacht to reinstall curtains that had been cleaned (new to the area at that time. I’m a big shot grifter now). I got a look at how the other half lives and it looks like a Radisson hotel suite on an old boat.
As of last May, when Forbes magazine released it’s rankings of the wealthiest people in the world, Paul Allen was still worth $10.5 billion U.s. dollars, even after taking into account the halving of the value of the Microsoft stock he still owns, the bankruptcy of Charter Communications, Vulcan’s real estate value losses due to the collapse of that market, etc.
That means if he had his wealth invested in CDs for a mere 3% return on investment, he would still have far more money than he could ever spend on himself, resulting in an annual return of almost 315 million. Heck, he could spend more than 26 million bucks a month, each and every month, without touching the principal. I doubt many of us could do that, although I would certainly be willing to give it the old college try.
Since he’s single and doesn’t have a family, he’s free to invest in whatever he wants. He currently owns the majority stake in the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as the Seattle Sounders FC. He’s got a huge yacht, a couple of helicopters, and at least one submarine. As a “retired” man with virtually unlimited wealth and no family obligations, he’s free to buy and play with as many toys as he wants.
Now that Postman can point out in such detail how John Fox is entirely full of crap, he’s better than the objective journalist he claimed to be.
@14 To add a little prespective, Paul Allen’s personal fortune is more than the gross domestic product of 69 countries.
Curious George spews:
If you’d read either of the links you’d discover it’s not B & O, it’s software licensing that’s the tax in question, which Microsoft is avoiding by pretending to do all its work in Reno. You might like to look into it.
Postman is right about John Fox: all that clown ever does is spread FUD about any/all public spending which fails to fund the “homeless.” Or, fails to fund the importation of as many homeless people from across the nation as possible….
I don’t think there’s a conflict of interest, in the sense that Crosscut is headlining Postman as an independent journalist. I would bet that anyone who would read an article on Crosscut, and read Postman when he was actually a journalist, would know what’s happened to him. His talent’s intact but he sold it to Vulcan. We’re not that naive. If we were, his Vulcan-ness is plainly stated.
And now I can’t find the article. Where did it go?
It appears to be a trend.
The L.A. Kings (a hockey team – no, really, they still have one!) was dissapointed that they couldn’t get any L.A. media to cover them. So they hired their own “beat-writer/journalist” to provide coverage of the team.
Mr. Baker spews:
There is a full-on for the Mercer projects at Crosscut.
3 columns within about a week.
To some extend I like reading their arguments, I fo not agree with them, but it is interesting seeing people say anything for money.
Mr. Baker spews:
I agree with 19, and would like to point to many of the “writers” that show up there, Chris Vance, Gene the Councilwoman Godden (gosh, goldy, ya’ think people mistake her for a coulumnst?).
And everybody knows it.
The people that tend to frequent Crosscut sometimes think it is:
I think Sandeep remembers who Postman works for while secretly reading Crosscut.
Mr. Baker spews:
And here is my all time favorite Crosscut “column”
Chris Vance is a political consultant who lives in Auburn, Wash. He was chair of the Republican Party in Washington from 2001-06, a King County Council member from 1994-2001, and a state representative from 1991-93. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Whenever I feel down, or sad, and need a good laugh, Chris Vance writing that there isn’t enough money in local politics is like an old comedy record, you know the punchlines, but still laugh.
I usually enjoyed Postman’s work at his previous employer, until that is, he jumped on the Pete Peterson Foundation bandwagon and bought into their fascile line of bullshit (Social Security’s ‘unfunded liabilities’ will drown us in future debt) hook line and sinker. It was a truly egregiously wrong puff piece full of incorrect information and faulty generalizations from a few so-called “facts”. It was an embarrassment. I sincerely hope he recants it fully some day.
“Campaign-contribution limits are hurting democracy because candidates can’t raise enough money to effectively reach the electorate.”
Unless, of course, the contributions come from unions. Funny how the tune changes then.
Goldy, I’d like to hear your thoughts on how this subject relates to Sandeep posting on Publicola.
Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:
Puddy wishes he had some of his “personal collections” found in the EMP! He’s employing people with his $$$, another problem for Woger Wabbit.
Empty Suit Obama spews:
Hmmm Gold whining about Postman flocking to Allen’s Vulcan group while ignoring how many “journalists” have flocked to be active members (like they weren’t before?!!) of the Democrat party machine in Olympia. e.g. Robert Mak.
Ignorance is bliss isn’t it? Or is blind adherence to an ideology enough to just dismiss inconsistencies in your argument? With Goldy, it’s the latter.
Empty Suit Obama spews:
Oh, and all you libtards whining about private companies paying executive salaries need to pry your head from your ass and get a little dose of reality. Since when does the mouthpiece for the incompetent mayor get more than the mayor himself?
Only in Americas favorite cowtown, Seattle. What more can you expect from a government agency??
I would be extremely happy if only I could read HA comments and never again come upon the ugliest word in the world: “libtard.”
Empty Suit Obama spews:
If that’s the ugliest word in the world at your age, you haven’t been outside the house much and for that matter, have spent very little time reading the HA comments section. Using it almost sends them to the ceiling faster than leaving two little letters off of their party name (i.c.)- Democrat party
Hell, I’d even call it by that name if I thought they lived up to the definition, but they don’t , so I won’t.
Jason Osgood spews:
I don’t have a problem with it. Crosscut is already the soapbox for Rip Van Winkle and Chris Vance. At least we know who’s paying David Postman.
When conservative fiction (fantasy?) is given more than equal coverage for “balance”, all I want to know is who’s paying the bills. Then the bias (agenda) is clear.
Jason Osgood spews:
Ass @ 25
Have you run out of criticisms, so now you just need to make things up?
Puddybud is shocked SHOCKED spews:
Oh you mean SEIU tune. They contributed over $80 million to “the messiah’s” campaign, and they laid off 74 union employees just after the erection. Yep, that’s screwing da union members. Ask ylb arschloch for the original PuddyMissive on the subject. He first denied it like the SEIU/ACORN sharing offices picture then ran away. Well at least they are crafting the health care message.
Or how about this one Proud…
Or this one Proud…
Only fool right wingers who have no case, no logic and no brain to back up what they say resort to the term libtard.
Since they cannot argue or discuss things rationally, they name-call like third graders.
Poor Puddy, still denying this study?
You know, the Harvard study where they found that:
Where does Puddy refute this study? How was their data wrong? Puddy looks up google and finds non-peer reviewed “counter-studies”…
hahaha – Puddy is a fool and can’t refute the data….typical.
Green Thumb spews:
Goldy, I completely agree. It was weird, and Brewster and Postman know better.
I guess that, in the end, money talks.
you will be told the truth spews:
Puddy is a cretinous mental midget, spewing bile, and referring to himself in the third person. This kind of person is immune to all argument or the rational process in general, and he openly advertises his childishness with the way he engages in the most juvenile playing with names and silly retorts.
He’s like the kid in high school who didn’t get attention so he goes up on stage and farts into the microphone to disrupt the meeting.
Everyone think’s he’s a weirdo and he mistakes the attention for respect.
As with any maladjusted 3 year old the childishness is a desperate plea for connection and love.
It was a strange article, because Postman’s critique of Fox could just as easily apply to Postman himself. Postman basically said Fox is biased, don’t give him space. Well Postman is biased, so he shouldn’t have space either if you use Postman’s logic.
Postman completely ignored the substance of Fox’s comments. Postman just picked on one point, repeatedly. Postman is lucky he did not have an editor reviewing the story before it was posted, because it certainly did not meet any sort of journalistic criteria.