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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Keller Kerfuffle

As regular readers know, I'm not a big fan of Jon Keller's world view. And while we've had enough of a passing acquaintance to nod to each other in passing, we are not friends.

But, I'm more on the side of Dan Kennedy and Adam Reilly than I am with the gang at Blue Mass Group who are still smarting over the question of whether bloggers are journalists. I did cover enough of the same stories with Keller to say that yes, unequivocally, he is a journalist.

But there's no question Jon has had a bad week as a journalist. First it was the question about the potential conflict of interest given his son's job as Jim Ogonowski's spokesman.

Then there's the mini-uproar documented by Jessica Heslam over whether Keller is guilty of plagiarism.

I vote no on the plagiarism and yes that Keller needed to disclose more than once -- and only on his blog -- what his son was doing on his own time.

Because it all comes down to WWJD -- what would Jon do? And in my mind, he is guilty of a "sin" that he regular nails people for -- not living up to lofty standards and expectations.

I probably can't begin to catalog the number of stories he has covered where someone is guilty of an appearance of a conflict of interest. My gut tells me he has probably called the Globe out more than once about the fact The New York Times owns a piece of the Red Sox -- a fact that the Globe (usually) dutifully notes when they write about the team.

(I'm in blogger mode here and not reporter so I am not going to begin to try to document these two allegations. If someone can prove me wrong, all the better).

But it is a safe assumption that Jon has repeatedly held people to high standards about what they say or do. So why should we not hold him to those same standards?

I'm also a bit dismayed that he hasn't addressed these issues -- on his blog or elsewhere. (He's certainly flogging the book there). Aren't we entitled to hear a "mea culpa" or a "screw you" from a man who demands that of the people he covers?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously it's a huge conflict of interest, but *shrugs* Nothing's going to be done about it. Keller obviously thinks the entire concept of "ethics" is amusing, and as for BZ, well if they haven't thought about bringing in a counterpoint to their political analyst when he writes an "I hate Democrats" book, they don't care about appearances.

The person whose credibility is really called into question is dan kennedy. I'm really interested in this supposed clear substantive difference between a spousal relationship and a parental relationship when it comes to COI.

October 19, 2007 2:59 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I disagree with your characterization of Dan Kennedy (who is a friend). He's been honest about his relationship with Jon from the get go.

And I probably should have said that while Keller is not guilty of plagiarism, he is guilty of being very sloppy.

As for conflict of interest, it's like the old definition of pornography -- you know it when you see it. And in the instance of a reporter who covers politicians who are bound by a state law that includes a category entitled "appearance of a conflict of interest," that line should be pretty clear, whether spouse, child, parent or business associate.

If journalists enforce the rules, they ought to abide by the same standards.

October 19, 2007 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not concerned by Kennedy's friendship with Keller, but with the poor judgement he showed in advising his friend that having a conflict of interest involving a parental relationship is somehow less egregious than having a conflict of interest involving a spousal relationship. Obvously Kennedy isn't resposible for Keller's actions, but I'm really curious about what reasoning process this opinion is based on, as it seems downright bizarre.

October 20, 2007 1:13 AM  

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