FOUND! the New York Times and Me Pt 3: integrity

Woah. So this is the internet.

Even though this thing ain’t exactly, I’ve been found. Still mulling over what exactly this means.

Cave: hi ——-, i just happened to discover your blog where you posted our email correspondence and suggested that my story was both poorly written, and questioned whether i could be trusted (what you don’t like my florida shirt?).

i got my start in journalism on the web so i’m generally cool with transparency and i always respond to readers knowing that it might end up online — but i also believe that bloggers, like journalists, have a responsibility to disclose their intentions. you should have said you wanted to use my comments on your blog. i also believe, as a point of personal courtesy, that you should have pointed me to it so that i understood your questions were not simply the inquiries of a curious reader, but rather an interview based on initial criticism of the story.

i always try to respond to readers and this isn’t the first time that my comments ended up online without advance notice. i also appreciate the fact that you posted our full exchange instead of just portions that supported your point of view. however, as i have with others, i wanted to send you this missive in the hopes that next time, with me or another reporter, you’ll be a bit more fair. whether it’s me at the times or you online, we all owe our subjects and our readers an honest accounting of who we are and why we’re asking questions. in this case, i think your approach fell short.



Starbuck: Hi Damien,

Thanks for the feedback. I would like to apologize and defend myself in the same move, if that is possible. I had no intention of posting what ever interaction we would have even upon the completion of our conversation. It was only a little while later that it occurred to me that it would be interesting fare for whoever reads my blog, honestly not very many people outside of a loose network of folks I know, and people who have accidentally ended up here for one reason or another.

I also consider myself an activist, commentator, and on the ground theorist, and not a journalist. The way blogs are used these days blurs that line, for sure.

I guess this leads me to the tricky situation, none of us like to find negative comments about ourselves floating around on the internet. The post is more meant to explore the relationships that reporters and reporting have to social change and social movements, than to slander you. I feel as if I can support this due to the low-key (though after this it ceratainly feels less so) nature of my blog.

Another point in the post was that those of us who consider ourselves activists feel forced in certain situations to take reporters too seriously, to treat them as a vehicle to success rather than a human being with a talent, or task, or calling, or something. What I want to apologize for then, is for not doing anything to substantially change the model, apart from to attack it, and to turn it on its head to treat you as a reporter as an object. There is though the matter of power, that what reporters can get into high-profile papers is likely to have a substantially greater effect than what some kid can put into a blog.

Again thanks for replying, and for allowing me to apologize, but argue a little bit at the same time. If you think this is hypocritical, let me know and we can chat some more.

Cave: i don’t mind the negative comments, and i like engaging with readers. i mind not being told i was being interviewed. this isn’t something we’re allowed to do at the times, and while yes, reporters for big outlets have more power, they have also have an ethics policy that says you have to tell people you’re a reporter so they know what they’re getting into.

i just think that bloggers and activists can sometimes learn from the MSM process. however much the product may be hated, some of our standard practices — of full disclosure and a dedication to fairness — are worth applying more broadly.


Is it weird that I deleted my name? There is probably enough personal information on this site and others linked to to make a pretty accurate guess as to who I am. Some questions to come out of this: what is fairness? Am I journalist? Am I obligated to tell people that I have a blog? Oddly enough, this whole thing brings back the pangs of LJ drama, even though we’re all adults, sort of.

3 responses to “FOUND! the New York Times and Me Pt 3: integrity

  1. hey this is Aaron long time reader, second to third time commenter!!!

    I have never understood why people claim there is some kind of universal ethics that pertain to a certain profession. Like, you spend all this money on a formal education, that cost the same amount as a public library pass, but the diploma and struggle to get into your field of work means you are held to this code of ethics that only means something if individual people have a problem with it.

    How to respond and act in certain situations is always up for change. We need to look no further than our local favorite police chief or a major, to see how there interpretation of ethics and morals are different from the previous incumbent.

    What makes me angry though is that the more power someone has the more discretion they are rewarded on ethical issues. There is not much Starbuck could have done because A. Starbuck isn’t a journalist, so the ethics damien claims to serve, means nothing to him. B. damien tried to use his position of power to call a foul in the conversation. C. What more could be said when Starbuck brought seemed to fulfill his purpose of writing the post?

    I short, the word journalist means nothing. If a sex worker knows more about the American people and will tell you more truth about the American people, then why did you become a journalist? Not saying sex workers know more about the military, but everyday people, in there own ways, do what journalist are doing. Journalist are just paid for that information, where as others are not. This doesnt make too much sense but journalism will always be a wasted profession as long as people can have lived experiences.



    Ps. first draft no edit

  2. this is awesome. i’m glad these things happen to you starbuck. since you are far away we can at least be blog friends power power power power power pow pow pow

  3. wow! two \ˈa-rən, ˈer-ən\s on one post!

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