First off, Nico Pitney, along with the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, has pulled off an excellent journalistic feat over the past few week in covering the Green Revolution. Namely, they managed to quickly get knee-deep into breaking raw info. While they put the necessary caveats to the tide pouring in, they have also done their best to verify much of the information and add needed context and analysis to an extremely complicated event. Both have also used their own contacts inside Iran to help make sense of the situation on the ground.
In short, they did journalism. Pitney has never hid his leftist views (nor Sullivan his conservative ones), but he's done good work by just about any standard. Any budding journalist should be studying both bloggers for a small primer in how to blend new methods with old school contact-working. While I've written about the value of journalistic objectivity, writers like Pitney and Sullivan do excellent work, even if their affiliation is known ahead of time.
Then comes in Dana Milbank and the guard-dogs of tradition, who went apoplectic when Pitney got the second question from President Obama at a recent press conference. All of a sudden, Pitney gets accused of collusion, even though the question was solicited from Iranians and was a good, razor-sharp one. On top of all that, Pitney later characterized Obama's response as dodging the question -- hardly the views of a plant.
Look at the video above. The first item mentioned is that calling upon Pitney violated the established pecking order of White House Press conferences. Not the "collusion" that's later shifted to as his main sin. That crossing of privilege, I think, is really the issue here. Milbank's disgust is blatant, and hard to understand in any other light.
Doubly interesting is that Milbank is essentially a glorified gossip-columnist who occasionally dabbles in reporting; he's got much more in common with stereotypical off-the-cuff blogger than a Murrow-style truth hound. However, he works for the Washington Post, not some johnny-come-lately blog, dammit. He has a tie! That used to count for something!
Of course, Pitney could have conducted himself in a more dignified manner, but his ire is understandable. The guy's just poured his heart and soul into some great reporting about Iran, and gets clucked at by a national media establishment that's fallen flat on its face time after time. At some point, it's worth bluntly calling bullshit.
At its core, this is a turf fight. What's changed is that this time Pitney is at the table too, instead of the usual media inner circle doing the sniping at a distant target. That, in itself, is an acknowledgment of how the landscape's changing.
Of course, as interesting as all of this is to those of us in media land, at some point the general public (in all its various fragments) will say Jesus, why won't you all shut the fuck up already and get us the goddamn news. They'll be right.
Asheville and Portland, Oregon, will share honors as Beer City USA, according to beer guru Charlie Papazian.
After thousands of votes were cast in the online poll, the two cities scored about 6,000 votes each, according to Papazian, who posted the online poll at www.examiner.com.
Papazian, who founded the Association of Brewers and American Homebrewers Association, wrote that more than 16,000 people from 46 countries cast ballots between March 18 and May 7 for their favorite Beer City USA in the first such online poll. In a seesaw polling battle, the voting was close right up to the end. Papazian said the poll, while not scientific, was “indicative of the efforts put forth by various communities.”
One thing that a poll like this indicates is the degree of beer culture and networks that exist in various areas of the country. It helps to bring to the forefront that beer culture, beer community and beer enthusiasm are relevant forces in the quest for access to better beer. ... I saw an effective mobilization of beer communities in several areas of America,” Papazian wrote.
As the voting deadline neared, Asheville blogs and Twitter-ers rallied their friends and social networks. The Orange Peel on Thursday pledged to host a celebration if Asheville won.
Full disclosure. Xpress publisher Jeff Fobes, my boss, will be co-sponsoring that celebration.
Also, during all that effective mobilization, things got heated. While there were plenty of barbs from the Asheville side, a particularly special breed of viciousness bubbled forth from Portland partisans. Some choice comments on the original thread included referring to our fair city as "Assville," implying that our love of beer simply included an enthusiasm for warm Coors combined with incest and lastly, questioning how we got the internet in the first place (hint: it involves machines).
This further cements Portland's reputation as a hotbed of tolerance, intellectualism and diversity.
In the spirit of hospitality, I would invite them at any point to visit one of Asheville's many breweries or beer joints, sample a tasty beverage and repeat their remarks, preferably as loudly as possible (with better grammar, one can hope), to the assembled drinkers. I might personally suggest the excellent Wedge Brewery, especially due to the proximity of railroad tracks, abandoned industrial facilities, and a large river.
Sniping aside, I wonder if this might finally strain the much-touted (at least here) tie between the two cities. Maybe we'll have less Portland émigrés shift here in the future, and general negative feeling will cause outgoing Ashevillains to pick a different place to move to.
I'd like to take this moment to give my very warm thanks and endorsement to Madeline Ashby (Happy Belated Birthday!) and her blog Escaping the Trunk, she was kind enough to give my work her recommendation recently. She's my age and already an accomplished sci-fi author. So make with the clicky and read.