Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hack Smackdown

Courtesy of
My Left Nutmeg and spazeboy

Doug Hardy, an associate editor of the Journal Inquirer,
wrote the following letter, which appeared in the print
edition of The Connecticut Post.

Hooray for Ken Dixon! It appears the Connecticut Post's State Capitol reporter has abandoned the First Amendment in order to reveal his loathing for freelance reporter and activist Ken Krayeske. Maybe it's time Dixon read up on our freedom of speech and the role of the reporter in our society. Clearly, he doesn't understand the concept.

Dixon's Feb. 4 column headlined, "Plenty of fingers can be pointed in Krayeske issue," was a hatchet job and showed a real lack of insight into the ramifications of Krayeske's arrest during Gov. M. Jodi Rell's inaugural parade a few weeks ago.

Dixon gives us an over-the-top look at his motives with constant use of negative language about Krayeske, including "Pseudo-journalist, itinerant rabble-rouser, and impotent political provocateur," weird intensity in the field," "slacker," and, "blahg," which, for those of you who aren't yet Internet-savvy, is a print-media sneer at Krayeske's blog.

Dixon needs to realize that Krayeske, like him or not, is counted among those who have elevated themselves to that lofty, "highfalutin appellation" of reporter. There is no licensing for newspaper reporters, no legal requirement that we sacrifice any political agenda we may possess for the concept of fairness in any opinion piece. We're asked to be accurate and fair. That's about it.

Reporters who think Krayeske doesn't get to be in their club because he has worked as an activist are fooling themselves. They've got opinions. I know some who used to contribute cash to political causes while also reporting on politics. Others attend protests and wave signs. Then they pretend none of that happened and go back to work the next day. It's hypocritical to pretend you don't have an opinion.

And by the way, columnists and reporters attend the same news conferences, so it doesn't make a lot of sensed that Dixon lost his "patience" with Krayeske because he had the nerve to ask Rell a question during the event in Windsor. He most certainly did not get "into Rell's face" at the event, either, based on the description of events from reporters who attended. Those are Dixon's words, and I think he used his "journalistic license" to embellish the truth a bit.

But it certainly does seem like Krayeske messed up Dixon's day in Windsor. Instead of being able to write his story based on the pre-scripted topic of Rell's news conference and her comments he probably had to write a story that mentioned the exchange between Krayeske and the governor, and what it was about - Krayeske's effort to get the Green Party's ideas into the public discourse. Those ideas seemed to have terrified Republicans and Democrats alike during the campaign.

Or, maybe Dixon didn't bother to include that information for his readers. I wonder, did that ego appear when he "arrived" at the Post's Capitol beat?

Dixon, it appears, also has a lot of distain for "civilians." A good reporter would know that he/she is, in fact, a civilian. Use any label you like - journalist, reporter, photojournalist, freelancer, muckraker - everyone has a right to ask questions, have an opinion, and publish it. Reporters who go to Baghdad choose to do so under extreme risk. They are not drafted, as Dixon might have us believe. But the bottom line here is that being a former employee of the Green Party (Krayeske is a registered Democrat) does not make it OK to detain anyone as a "person of interest."

Every reporter has an agenda, particularly those who are up in that "statusphere" where they get to write columns with their picture inset, rather than a simple text byline. Some allow their agendas into their jobs more than others. Krayeske has simply gone into activism as his primary focus in life. He still gets t ask questions ad take photographs and call himself a reporter. He gets paid on a per-story basis as a freelancer. I wonder if Dixon has ever done that, or if he understands what it takes to survive in Connecticut's economy while also attending law school.

And calling Krayeske a slacker is ridiculous when you consider how many reporters admit they went into the profession simply because they couldn't do math in school. I guess they're all slackers, too.

I've known Krayeske for several years and, certainly, his choices on when to take a stand on First Amendment issues have had an impact on his employment. He'll freely admit that. But Connecticut's news-gathering community owes him a debt. Part of the reason he is no longer employed as a full-time reporter is because he's been vocal about the inequities of some of his employers. Several years ago, after working many unpaid hours of overtime at a Journal Register Co. paper, he quit his job and went to the labor department as a whistleblower. Investigators interviewed all of the chain's in-state employees, and a short time later dozens of reporters, editors, photographers and others received checks in the thousands of dollars.

So a lot of people in Connecticut's news business owe Krayeske a debt of gratitude. But he's not going to be working for any Journal Register Co. publications any time soon, and the company owns most of the state's newspapers.

So where does that leave Krayeske? He'll always be a reporter. It's in his blood. And that's fine because anyone can call themselves a reporter. Whether you're making money or simply doing it as a hobby does not matter. This is America, Mr. Dixon, and when people like you find it "humorous" that Krayeske was held for more than 12 hours on baseless breach of peace and interfering charges, and "hilarious" that his bond was set at $75,000 so that he could neither do his job nor protest, it simply shows your own disconnect from the rest of us "civilians."

If Krayeske's intensity is "weird," Mr. Dixon, your lack of intensity, with respect to your own rights as a journalist, is "pathetic.'

Doug Hardy,

1 comment:

s p a z e b o y said...

Thanks, but I can't take any credit here.

The incredible Sue at My Left Nutmeg read the letter in her paper this morning and typed it up. I merely promoted her transcription to the front page.