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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mr. Pot Calling the Kettle

Gary Rosenblatt's editor's column in this week's Jewish Week made me laugh out loud. He writes about journalists' use of anonymous sources, apropos news of Deep Throat's identity and the Newsweek kerfuffle. In his words:
In a perfect world, newspapers should never publish anonymous quotes. But in reality, circumstances sometimes dictate that people with important information to impart have good reason to want to remain unnamed because to go public would jeopardize their careers, or even their lives.

Sometimes, though, sources will want to speak off the record for less noble reasons. They may want to take a cheap shot at a rival, or make an outrageous statement and not worry about suffering the consequences, or they may just be too intellectually lazy to be prepared to back up their comments. In the end, it comes down to a reporter’s judgment about whether the source can be trusted and whether that source’s reasons for wishing to remain in the shadows are justified.

In case you need to be reminded, we journalists make mistakes, not only in reporting facts but in evaluating people’s character and motives.

There are times when we at this newspaper have persuaded people who insisted they would only talk to us off the record to change their minds and go on the record. We may convince them that their quotes are key to a story’s credibility, or we may explain that we have others on the record, so there is some comfort in not being alone in speaking out, or we may ease their concerns about being misquoted by checking their quotes with them before publication.

There are other times we have opted, in the end, not to publish a story because it lacked sufficient credible sourcing.

All well and good. Except for the minor fact that Gary Rosenblatt is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to the use of anonymous sources.The cover story in this week's issue of his paper is rife with anonymous sources, unfounded allegations, and innuendo. It has to be one of the best examples of shoddy journalism I've ever seen. And this story is just indicative of his usual style of "reporting". The sanctimonious tone he takes toward other journalists is just too funny, considering his own hypocrisy. Before you worry about cleaning house at other publications, Mr. Rosenblatt, how about you work on cleaning your own glass house?


Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

In my opinion Rosenblatt has already earned his place in heaven. If for him Lanner would still be destroying the lives of teenagers.

10:06 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Doesn't give him free reign to practice shoddy journalism.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Ortho, I actually took the time to reead the article and I am not sure what your problem is. Most of it is attributed to on the record sources and it appears that the paper gained access to documents obtained by the NY AG (although one moght rightly criticize the AG for making such docs available). The guts of the piece to me is the descriptions of these documents. The one prblematic anonymous source was the Singer associate quoted at the end.

10:25 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

The article is so full of innuendo. It's just irresponsible. And where does it say that the AG released the documents? It just quotes "sources close to the probe". Sounds anonymous to me. Rosenblatt's a clown. This story is only this week's example. Next week he will trash someone else through his shoddy "reporting".

10:38 PM  
Blogger mindingmyownbiz said...

Even if Rosenblatt might have earned his place in heaven with the Lanner incident, he has surely lost it since with all of the anti-orthodox rhetoric that he publishes in his paper every week.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand why you didn't like this article. In general, Rosenblatt is a bit full of himself/it.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosenblatt likes to screw anyone who doesnt agree with him. Anyone who is too orthodox or too liberal falls into this category. The guy may have been right with the Lanner exposure, but he made himself into a Frankenstein.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

"But information that has been given over to the attorney general’s office, and shared with The Jewish Week"

Clearly Rosenblatt's views come through but it looks to be a decently sourced article.

ANd anyway where else are you going to turn to for jewish news? The Yated? The Jewish Press? As a source of news the jewish week is clearly superior to most anything else out there in the NY area.

10:53 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I hear what you're saying, Krum, but just because it's the best out there doesn't make his smug self-righteous hypocrisy any less annoying.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

My view is that the Jewish community needs a couple of watchdogs like Rosenblatt. Without them things happen unchecked. The smug self-righteousness, the vendettas, biases, etc... comes with the territory.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who appointed Gary Rosenblatt to be G-ds police?I have to agree with ortho mom.He takes himself and his judgements a little too seriously. This guy makes me ill.

11:21 PM  
Blogger ravital said...

He's a self righteous hypocrite who loves to "expose" anyone he can sink his teeth into. Can't wait till someone "exposes" him

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does he get all of his info from?

11:28 PM  
Blogger rockofgalilee said...

"But information that has been given over to the attorney general’s office, and shared with The Jewish Week"

Does not say that the attorney general's office shared anything. It says, someone mailed a letter to the AG, may or may not have been worth anything, and he mailed the same letter to the Jewish Week.

5:11 AM  
Blogger ravital said...

There is something fishy about his coverage of this whole story.Rosenblatt has demonstrated a bias since the outset.

6:22 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Rock of Galilee: I read it the same way. I just don't like the way the guy reports. He states as fact what is clearly only innuendo or hearsay.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Facinating how all the allegations in the cover story are sourceless and the all the defences are direct quotes. It's a half-assed article at best but it's juxtaposition with the editor's column is just rich. So let this be a lesson to you Newsweek! When you have the journalistic creditability that the Jewish Week does THEN and only then can you start to play fast and loose with the rules of Journalism.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They may want to take a cheap shot at a rival,"
You mean like the anonymous statement about Singer's arrogance at the end of the WJC article? Sounds like a cheap shot to me! This was funny, OM, thanks.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason Rosenblatt loves to write about this topic (shoddy reporting). I remember there was something like 2-3 weeks in a row where his editorial was about bloggers and their lack of credibility (because of anonymous sources, etc...)

1:14 PM  
Blogger ravital said...

I just commented to a friend last week that it seemed the newspaper has been taking the high road lately. For a while the Jewish Week had actually been sticking to substantive and newsworthy issues and seemed to be steering itself away from all the negative journalism. Apparently, I spoke too soon. It's disappointing.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the jewish week is notorious for making up quotes and making up sources. Just ask Stewart Ain "who is George Kitke?" Kitke is a fictional guy that Stewart Ain made up and quoted during the Republican National Convention. Rosenblatt had no problem with letting that one go.

...and how the hell does Gary Rosenblatt know whether the NY Times was close to running another story about the WJC? Does he sit on their editorial board now as well. If the Times is unwilling to comment on the issue then how does Rosenblatt know?

10:15 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Something very strange is going on here. Rosenblatt clearly has an axe to grind with someone in this picture. He is just looking to make trouble. So much for journalistic integrity!

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the website of the Jewish Week part of their mission statement appears in the 'About' section and notes that "In seeking to build and strengthen Jewish community while championing an aggressive and independent press, we are supportive of, but not beholden to, the organized Jewish community. Our first loyalty is to the truth.."

Isn't the Jewish Week distributed for free by the UJC/Federation? Doesn't that make them beholden to the Federation and related charities? Can anyone enlighten me on this? If there is truth to this, shouldn't there be some community accountability for Rosenblatt? I mean aren't those of us who contribute to the Federation are sort of paying to publish the Week?

I was recently informed that Rosenblatt gets the Federation to distibute his papers for free to their donors. This allows him to inflate his readership and charge more for advertising. If that is in fact the case that the Federation is distributing his papers isn't that a problem that a non-profit is directly helping the commercial activities of a for profit enterprise?

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

does rosenblatt even disclose that his circulation numbers include all those freebie giveaways?

8:40 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I guess I touched a nerve with this post. More to come on this topic then, I think...

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seems like Gary chooses to report only what HE deems appropriate:

"Indeed, Mr. Rosenblatt covered up a story about a tremendous government fine levied against him and the Jewish Week. Had Mr. Rosenblatt believed in reporting the news or his obligation to the community, if he were truly fair and honest, he would have printed a story to show the community what happens to those people who abuse financial systems. The New York Times put the Jason Blair fiasco front and center. Mr. Rosenblatt hid his scandal while claming to uncover others. But surely, Mr. Rosenblatt is an honorable man."

6:53 PM  
Blogger ravital said...

What a hypocrite. He pretends to be the great protector of the Jewish community when really he is just trying to elevate his own status

11:02 PM  
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