On Pig Wrestling

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Contemporary Commentary

A great man said:

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Such is the case in my writing about BigTrial.Net’s reporting on The Philadelphia Inquirer.  And before you assume where this is going, let me confess.  I may have been oinking a little too happily during some of those exchanges — to a point where I was not clear.

At least I regret not being clearer about one aspect of what I’ve written:

In no way am I questioning what Ralph Cipriano did “back then.” A number of good people have told me he acted honorably.
 Good for him.

I’ve been fired from jobs where I acted honorably. And here is the point:
I could not write about that company today with any degree of objectivity and fairness because of the acrimony. I’ve tried. I do not think it is humanly possible.

If by chance I did have to report on the company, I would approach the task with an oversized need to balance my reporting.  I would disclose my past experience. And  I would be open to any suggestion that I reported in a biased manner.

In my opinion, the reporting by Ralph on this case has been very one-sided.

Good for him for raising such points. (See What Ralph Got Right.)

But no, he has not followed up on the outcome of the points he has raised. He could and should. If you were an editor with this story in front of you, would you not ask these questions? What happened with all the issues he raised? Do you really just let the editors and reporters named in his blogs just twist in the wind?

The questions are quite capable of being answered. Even if the flacks are not dealing with Ralph, he has multiple entrance points into the newsroom for background sourced assessments.

And the answers he would get are the same ones I’ve gotten.

No, there was no pressured obit.
No, Katz does not regularly sit in news meetings.
No, there was no one forced to stand up.
And yes, his stories DO imply all those things.
Because Ralph went through a tortuous experience more than a decade ago is horrible.  I was not there and am just now understanding from many of your emails what a traumatic experience it must have been.

But however he acted then, that does not give him a free pass on reporting now.  You earn your spurs with every story you do – not what you’ve done.

Does anyone questioning his facts become part of some vast conspiracy of the realm of a 1990′s era Inquirer?  As apparently I have?

Look, my heart goes out to any journalist who went through what Ralph went through.

But when his blog appears nationally on Romenensko.com questioning the integrity of editors and reporters at The Inquirer, his history needs to be noted. And his stories need to be balanced.

And just in case you feel the scale is somehow balanced now, please consider that Romenensko has 1.8 million page views per day.  Mine? Around 300.

So please make the distinction between the issues Ralph had back then, and the issues I have with Ralph now. They are not one in the same.

And because Ralph was unfairly treated way back then, does not mean he is beyond criticism today.

Last blog on the topic. I wish both Ralph and the Inquirer the best.  As someone rightly said, it’s time to move on.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s