Getting hit with surprise audio when I click on web link is always a turnoff for me. It seems amateurish in an AOL kind of way, and disrespects visitors who might have reasons to keep things quiet around the house or office. Consider yourself warned if you visit the LAT.com page for the Current section, which debuted today. Somebody there thought it would be cute to insert a couple of seconds of electro sound. In print, the replacement for Sunday Opinion shouts Roger Black, the paper's highly compensated design consultant. Content-wise, it's essentially the same section Bob Sipchen has been rolling out for much of this year (here's his editor note.) This week there's an Outside the Tent by Jamie Court, an op-ed piece by local conservative blogger Govindini Murty, and a new column giving longtime talk radio host Dennis Prager another forum for his religion opinions. There is news in the section, however. Chief LAT opinionist Michael Kinsley joins the "journalists are not above the law" side in the Judith Miller case, arguing that "for all the grand talk about the 1st Amendment, this isn't about the right of the press to publish information. It is about a right to keep information secret. The government has secrets too." He dismisses the New York Times' civil disobedience and higher principle argument. While Kinsley is OK with the government using prosecutorial powers to go after a reporter's sources, he writes that Wen Ho Lee's attempt to uncover an LAT source in a civil suit is an unreasonable burden.
* Uh, she's in jail: LAT op-ed editor Nick Goldberg tried to get Miller to write a counter-argument, but in an email dripping with sarcasm, NYT Editor Bill Keller responded "Sadly, Judy is not on a fellowship at some writers' colony. She is in JAIL:"
She is sleeping on a foam mattress on the floor, and her communications are, shall we say, constrained.
I have to tell you that Mike's contrarian intellectualizing on the subject of reporters and the law was more amusing when it was all hypothetical. Back then it was just punditry. But that was before Norm Pearlstine embraced acquiescence as corporate policy, and before Judy Miller braved the real-world discomforts of the moral high ground. Of course this is an important issue, and clever minds should wrestle with it. But at the moment Kinsley and Pearlstine seem perversely remote from the world where actual reporters work."
Romenesko has the full exchange, plus links to expressions of support for Miller from the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News and other papers plus a roundup of scorn directed at Time's Norm Pearlstine. The NYT has a piece on the negotiation flurry between Time and Karl Rove's lawyers that led to Time reporter Matthew Cooper's testimony. It wasn't as simple as Cooper being released from his promise to a source.
Previously: 'Current' arrives