Saturday, September 29, 2007

Craig Cox Attacks Liz McLemore in Harvard Nieman Reports

During the Zimmermann trial, the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Craig Cox asked if he could re-publish Liz McLemore's notes on all 8 days of the Zimmermann trial (Liz McLemore's notes are linked on the sidebar).

I was shocked to learn many months later that Craig Cox attacked Liz McLemore by name in a journalism review as an example of what had gone wrong with the TCDP's experiment in citizen journalism.

You can read Craig Cox's article in Harvard's Nieman Reports.

It starts off this way:

Late in July, when a former member of the Minneapolis City Council went on trial in a high-profile bribery case, I received an e-mail from a local community activist alerting me to a woman who was determined to sit through the entire proceedings and describe the finer points of a trial that was headline news in the Twin Cities media.

The former member of the Mpls City Council was Dean Zimmermann. The "activist' is me and Cox fails to mention that I was an "editor" at the TCDP. Failing to mention Zimmermann and myself by name, Cox goes on to name Liz McLemore:

I dashed off an e-mail to the blogger, a south Minneapolis political activist named Liz McLemore, and asked her if she would allow me to publish her courtroom chronicles for our Daily Planet readers.

...what follows is a bizarre, vicious attack on Liz McLemore:

The McLemore "scoop" is an object lesson in the way citizen journalists can captivate and confound editors trying to build and maintain the credibility of their publications while encouraging ordinary citizens to tell their story. Captive to the vagaries of personal schedules, political biases, and reportorial limitations, these amateur reporters can require delicate handling even as they bring greater passion than many veterans.

... Cox didn't contact either me or Liz McLemore before he wrote his screed. Liz McLemore and I contacted the editor of the Nieman Reports and she apologized for allowing Cox to slime Liz McLemore and posted McLemore's response on the Nieman Report site. McLemore sets the record straight and concludes with this:

But what of Cox's own lapses in the very article in which he reports mine? Cox explains that for many people, "the media remains a monolithic, authoritarian machine that holds little interest or importance in their daily lives." Perhaps this is one reason that so many have turned to bloggers. To regain a position of importance in our lives, the media must earn it. At the very least, the public has a right to demand that professional journalists adhere to the standards of truth, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, and fairness. I expect nothing less from Craig Cox. Too bad he has failed to deliver it.

Craig Cox is no longer the editor at the TCDP. The new editor Mary Turck has taken over Cox's job of recruiting citizen journalists for TCDP. Turck recently yanked and re-wrote an article (after it was criticized by Mayor Rybak's flak-catcher).

Cox continues to cross-post political gossip from his Minneapolis Observer Ballot Box blog to his TCDP blog.

Craig Cox got himself into some hot water when he penned a nasty political hit piece on his Mpls Observer blog and cross-posted it to the TCDP blog. Shortly afterward, Cox's name was scrubbed from 6 CD candidate Bob Hill's web site.

Apparently, TCDP editor Mary Turck forwarded some e-mails complaining about Cox's attack piece and Cox promptly published excerpts from the private e-mails with caustic commentary on his blog:

“There are three parts to this allegation, none of which are true,” Carlson wrote in an e-mail that landed in our e-mail box this afternoon. It had been forwarded by Mary Turck, editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet, which also carries our commentary. Carlson did not elaborate.

That was followed by a more emphatic rant by another Olson volunteer, Tom Beckfeld (another refugee from the Hill campaign), who called our analysis of the situation “false to the point of slander” and added that he was “personally involved in this story and helped recruit Olson for the 6th.”

I wrote an e-mail on the 26th to Mary Turck asking if the TCDP would continue to publish Craig Cox... no reply yet.

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