October 17, 2002

I'm probably going to piss...

I'm probably going to piss off everyone now

In my continuing campaign to keep people from distorting my ethics posting, I have engaged Gretchen's Head, who writes that I "lumped [people] into very generalized and often misappropriate categories AND because this has just been done to my husband" when I raised the issue of bloggers accepting expense-paid trips to Microsoft's Mobius 2002 product briefing.

Gretchen's arguments are all fine by me -- people shouldn't generalize and journalist and bloggers are often different -- but she attributes all sorts of things to me that I simply didn't say.

Predictably, many of the comments on her site from readers called me all sorts of things, from envious of the attendees at Mobuis to a builder of an ugly site (which is just a Radio template with minor changes); and there were the usual plays on my last name, which I've endured stoically, since I love my last name and its history, since Kindergarten. It's all so familiar to me from the Y2K days, when every Y2K alarmist in the world threatened or insulted me at one time or another, that it just reinforces my belief that no matter how much things change they stay the same.

My reply to her posting:


I am astonished that the inocuous phrase "a group of bloggers" is what you single out as the source of your anger about my posting. I simply intended to distinguish some people from the rest of the people on the planet. It was based on a posting from Gizmodo that said Microsoft had invited bloggers to attend all expenses paid. You're reading something into it that absolutely wasn't there when you suggest I meant to demean bloggers in general or even the people who attended Mobius.

Nor did I say anything about bloggers being journalists or anything specifically about your husband, who I did not know was attending and with whose work I am familiar. Do I think it is ethical to take a free trip while running a newsletter and a conference? No. I never did when I ran a newsletter and a conference, even when I ran it on my own dime. But, it's up to Chris to make those decisions, not me -- as a reader, I have to say that I am surprised that he does take paid trips. As a reader, it changes the way I'll read him in the future. Is that something you should be angry about? You don't have a right to be, because I am free to make value judgments in my reading, just as any other reader is.

I only asked a rather obvious question and asked that both readers and bloggers consider it. In essence, I blogged my thoughts. I've also posted a number of follow-ups to the original posting which reiterate the fact that not once did I say bloggers are journalists or that they are obligated to disclose things as a group.

You also lump me into a category with "journalists," emphasizing this by saying I used the term in the context of "blogs being discussed in the media." You might have noticed that I discussed this issue on a blog, for which I do not get paid and which has no affiliation with any major media organization. You seem to be grinding an axe on my back that I did not help to dull, as I was just blogging, too.

Gretchen, it is nice you love your husband. I love my wife. The world is changing and if you don't want people to ask hard questions, I suggest you turn off the computer and ignore comments about what Chris does. Writing requires putting your thoughts and reputation on the line, it always involves harsh criticism and requires a thick skin. I only ask that you try to be accurate about what I said before you attack me.

Best regards,

Mitch (not Mr. Ratcliffe, because you aren't writing for the New York Times)

Now, is it rude to object to being mischaracterized by someone defending their spouse? No. If, as I am sure many of the people who will comment on this posting will, you believe it is rude to do so and that as a result you'll never ever read my stupid ugly blog again, fine. Goodbye.

See, that's the thing. My repeated attempt to ensure that my writing is not mischaracterized is an attempt to keep the debate focused on one simple question: What's ethical, whether you are a blogger or a journalist. That's all. Simple question. You don't have to answer it my way, or even to my satisfaction unless I ask you as a reader (in which case, I can stop reading your blog or your column or your newspaper). It's a democracy, one full of questions that need asking.

My email address is godsdog@ratcliffe.com. Flame away, but I reserve the right to edit what goes on my site, so flame in mail.

Now, back to our regular programming on the Ugly Stupid Network (USN -- Where you're bound to be offended sometimes).

Posted by Mitch Ratcliffe at October 17, 2002 03:57 PM | TrackBack
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