Monday, July 29, 2002

Someone named James Taranto writes a column on news found on the internet called "Best of the Web Today" for The Wall Street Journal. It is written in the form of a blog, and takes something from the blog world in having a rather personal style. Lately, I've noticed that the style is becoming more and more exaggerated, and the column is almost entirely made up of comments of a rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stance. The positions he takes against the Palestinians and Saudis are so consistently sarcastic and negative that it often seems like he is trying to parody himself. John R. Bradley of Arab News has also noticed this, and has written a rather scathing comment about it (and Taranto replies in kind). I know everyone has the right to free speech, and if Taranto published this as his own blog I could see no possible objection. I believe that the WSJ editors probably allow him to publish so outrageously as his views probably coincide with certain views of the editors which are so biased that they don't dare publish them in The Wall Street Journal itself. This raises the larger question of whether a large corporation, seeing the increasing popularity of blogs, should be allowed to hide behind the front of the blog format to publish material that it would never dare publish in a regular article or editorial (is this a problem for that oxymoron known as 'journalistic ethics'?). It seems to me that if writing by an employee of an established newspaper bears the name of that paper it should have to meet all the editorial policies of that paper, regardless of the format that it takes. You should not be able to hide behind the blog format. I would like to think that the Taranto column would not pass the regular WSJ editorial tests, and therefore should not be published under the WSJ name. Does The Wall Street Journal not have a reputation to protect? Would it dare publish such biased writing in an article or editorial in the paper itself or even on the main part of its website? No reputable newspaper should be able to print ridiculously biased comments simply because of the format in which they are printed.

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