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A Froomkin by Any Other Name



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Jay Rosen has rounded-up the clues and interviewed the suspects involved in the media tempest du jour — whether Dan Froomkin’s “White House Briefing” column is labeled clearly enough as opinion.

What happened is that Washington Post ombudsm– uh, person Deborah Howell wrote a column about how some in the newsroom — particularly Post political editor John Harris — were afraid that readers were coming to washingtonpost.com and confusing Froomkin’s liberal web-only column with news reporting.

That Froomkin is a liberal columnist is pretty undeniable (Jay wants examples — these probably aren’t the best but I’ve written about Froomkin here and here). That said, I think it should be clear to any reader with even a small degree of familiarity with newspapers that he writes an opinion column.

What comes across in Rosen’s post is how threatened Harris feels by what he perceives as an assault on the tradition of objectivity in journalism. As someone who doesn’t think objectivity in journalism is possible or desirable, I think if Harris — or Howell — really wanted to address this issue, they should take a look at some of the Post’s news reporters who clearly do have a political agenda and whose reporting undermines the case Harris is trying to make for objective journalism. This Froomkin stuff seems like a distraction from the real problem.



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