Time For Another Blogger Ethics Panel
The Washington Post is selling its access to its own reporters and to Obama administration officials:
For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few” — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.
The astonishing offer is detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he feels it’s a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its “health care reporting and editorial staff.”
The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — is a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival.
This makes the Dana Milbank/Nico Pitney throwdown doubly (maybe triply!) juicy now – the same newspaper that fired Dan Froomkin for basically being popular and well-read while castigating itself over running too many pictures of things that are happening and letting Milbank get away with running anonymously sourced inaccurate quotes is now revealed to have sold its constitutionally protected access to government officials for the relative bowl of pottage. It is insinuated (or outright stated) that bloggers are terrible, awful people because we might say mean things on the internet, or we might not actually delete all of our archives to avoid the terrible shame of accountability or maybe say things approving of a candidate who is paying us to say those things, except that we say them (after we’ve clearly broken ties with our private blogs) on campaign websites.
That’s the critical difference between blogs as media watchers and major media itself – as much as big media might like it, bloggers have neither the ability nor the desire to engage in the sort of ethical lapses that are available to outlets like the Washington Post every day. We may sit in our mothers’ basements watching torrented Thundercats episodes, but we do it honestly.