Patterico in the news

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The latest Online Journalism Review column by Mark Glaser explores the impact that bloggers are having on mainstream media. One of his main examples is the case of the Los Angeles site Patterico's Pontifications and its creator's role in an L.A. Times story about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Glaser writes:

In the case of blogger Patterico, he had been critiquing the Los Angeles Times's supposed liberal bias and struck gold when he pointed out how liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a similar conflict as conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The swift action by the Times to run a story on Ginsburg on its front page shocked the blogger, a prosecuting attorney who lives in Marina del Rey, Calif., who had been referring to the paper as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer (a term coined by comedian Harry Shearer)...

Patterico (whose real name is Patrick Frey) was lauded for his efforts by Rosen in PressThink and even was mentioned in Dan Gillmor's upcoming book, "We the Media," in galleys I saw. Strangely, the L.A. Times' readers representative Jamie Gold was cagey on the role that Patterico played in the Ginsburg story, saying, "I wouldn't go beyond that to speculate on how bloggers have changed the job for reporters and the way they gather news."

I talked with Richard Serrano, one of the L.A. Times reporters who wrote the Ginsburg piece. He first told me that his source for the story was not from a blog and he wouldn't reveal the source. Later, with Frey's approval, he was willing to concede that he was indeed the source. Because the blogger contacted the paper initially as Patrick Frey, attorney, and not Patterico the blogger, the Times considered him just an interested reader.

"I've never heard of Patterico and I didn't know Frey was a blogger," said Scott Kraft, national editor at the L.A. Times. "We get hundreds of tips from readers every day and we look into the tips that sound promising. Frey has written frequently to our readers representative, expressing opinions about stories -- especially legal stories -- we've published. We don't ask readers who give us tips what they do for a living or for fun."


"I was impressed when the paper ran the story about Justice Ginsburg pursuant to my tip," Frey told me via e-mail. "However, the incident has not persuaded me that the Times is not biased against Justice Scalia. I think the L.A. Times has some fine people working for them. However, I have little doubt that most of them are more liberal than mainstream America -- as is the case with most newspaper reporters across America -- and this no doubt contributes to an unconscious bias towards the left."

Other leading examples in the column involve the dustup over Maureen Dowd's ellipses in the New York Times and an exposed fake at the Chicago Tribune.

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