For my last column, I interviewed Brad Jones, Managing Editor of FaceTheState.com. Here are some excerpts from my interview with him.
Jason: You say you produce credible journalism, and you deserve credit for some of your investigations and articles, but then you do strange things, like you don’t have bylines. Why?
Brad: That’s not strange at all. As a media observer, as you are, you’d know it’s standard practice for insider publications, and I’m thinking of industries like politics, entertainment, trade magazines, it’s standard practice to have staff reports for a number of reasons. One, we think the story is the story. It’s not the writer. And second, a lot of those stories are a product of a team of writers and an editor. This is a standard practice employed by plenty of other publications.
Jason: If you make the statement that you’re practicing high standards of journalism, you’d want to have bylines. I think that’s pretty much indisputable. You may be right that that’s the way they do it in some industry publications, but why wouldn’t you do that? Is it that hard to list three or four people if they contributed?
Brad: Well, the left has gone after me personally as the public face and managing editor of Facethestate.com. Vicious attacks on my professional behavior, which I am happy to have people be critical of, but also on my personal character, my past, and my professional endeavors. And I don’t wish that on my staff.
Jason: That comes with the territory.
Brad: Ahh. Ad hominem on reporters and staff? That absolutely does not come with the territory. I’ve been very dismayed at the behavior of some of our critics. Most of the criticism of Face the State has been about our structure, our funding, me, you know, it’s innuendo. It’s exaggeration. It has nothing to do with journalism. I think people should judge our news content on its merits.
I should add, Jason, that our staff reporters identify themselves as staff reporters for Face the State. Our staff makes it very clear as far as sourcing a publication that they are writing for.
Jason: The headlines you put above links to stories in the Rocky and Post and elsewhere can be misleading. Like the one about “Wacko environmentalists.”
Brad: Quite frankly, we’re having fun. Politics is fun. Political news is fun. The news aggregation is a great place where we can bring people the important stories from around Colorado, and it’s informative but also humorous in a light-hearted way sometimes. I don’t put, “This is a news report” on the top of the news aggregation- Our audience is very sophisticated. They get what we’re doing.
Jason: Why don’t you pursue journalism awards, like from the Society of Professional Jouralists. Colorado Confidential got some of these.
Brad: Quite honestly, I would think the SPJ’s political agenda and judges are more in line with Colorado Confidential’s agenda than with ours-.We are helping to shape this new medium. I think we put out a quality product. We’re always happy to hear from our critics. We’re continuing to improve. Legitimate criticism doesn’t fall on deaf ears with us. We’re not here to please the Bill Menezeses [of Colorado Media Matters] of the world. I’m not. To be honest, a nasty rant from Colorado Media Matters reinforces that we’re doing the right thing. (In an earlier interview, Brad said, “If the Bill Menezes of the world are up in arms about me, I’m glad. I think Bill Menezes has a man crush on me, the way he obsesses on Face the State.”)
Jason: That’s an extreme statement. I think you should hear what they have to say. Sometimes they have a legitimate criticism and sometimes they may not. You should try to have an open mind. Why not?