Sunday, February 11, 2007

WAPO Answers for Arkin

Deborah Howell, the Washington Post's ombudsman, had these words to say concerning William Arkin's inflammatory online column on American Soldiers a few weeks back:

Arkin's column did not meet Post standards, but then, newspaper editing isn't perfect, either. But "mercenary" [the term Arkin used as he referred to the all volunteer American military] surely is live ammo; such an incendiary word should have popped out in flames to Post editors. And it is good editing that should prevail when a report carries The Post's banner.

In Arkins' most recent post, on February 6th, the Post's blogger indicated that he may take a short hiatus after all the controversy his blog posting caused:

I'm a bit surprised that many of the critics, even the O'Reilly's of the world, think that I AM the Washington Post, that is, that the journalism in the Post is inseparable from the opinion. Maybe these critics are just posturing to attack the newspaper; maybe they truly don't get it; maybe they really wish for or foresee the demise of the mainstream news media. The Post, on the other hand, has made a major commitment to adjust itself to this new, cacophonous, very imperfect new medium, demonstrating that it is not going to die a carbon death while the digital era advances. Because it is the Washington Post, I know that my words carry more weight, and that gives me an added responsibility: I not only have to be true to myself and what I believe and adhere to the facts, but I also have to be mindful of the power of the pen. In that spirit, I'll give myself and my readers a break.

Read the whole ombudsman article, it is worthwhile, as the folks at Powerline stated, for it shows the different editorial processes found at the online and "paper" versions of the Post; my guess is the uproar over William Arkin publishing a column that "satirically" denigrates the United States Military is going to generate some more checks and balances on the Post's digital undertakings.

It is interesting to note that in the last week there have been two minor flaps involving bloggers: Arkin, of course, and then the two bloggers who signed on as hired guns in the Edwards campaign. In both cases, the controversy derived from the use of perjorative language, which in both cases once again was dismissed as satire that the unenlightened readers took literally, in their ignorance.

Satire
is a useful literary device, but it makes a poor excuse for vulgar language , and a thin, ratty veil for hate speech. It is tiresome to see satire constantly invoked when defending mediocre writers.

3 comments:

The Gentle Cricket said...

"Satire is a useful literary device, but it makes a poor excuse for vulgar language , and a thin, ratty veil for hate speech"

Very apt, very succinct. It was a poor choice of words, and if it is his true opinion, he is gravely mistaken.

Bob W. said...

Thanks, Gentle Cricket! I like your blogs,, and look forward to renting Jango and Cash next time I go to Blockbuster!

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