Blogging Villaraigosa

Luke Ford has been receiving credit for driving the coverage of Antonio Villaraigosa’s romantic life and his relationship with LA TV reporter Mirthala Salinas.  Here’s the LA Times’ Tim Rutten:

Clearly, the mayor would not be in the fix he’s in — and it’s quite a fix — without the emergence of a vigorous online media that is reshaping the city’s political landscape. Los Angeles mayors Sam Yorty and Tom Bradley were married men who had affairs, which never got into the papers because, even if City Hall reporters had been inclined to pursue the story, it would have been virtually impossible to make it conform to the standards their editors enforced….The news of Villaraigosa’s marital difficulties was broken by a blogger, Luke Ford, then fleshed out by the Daily News, which immediately posted the story on its website. The paper’s editorial page editor set the tone for much of the subsequent commentary by immediately putting up a hysterical screed that, believe it or not, included terms you probably haven’t seen since the last time you read “Elmer Gantry,” words like “homewrecker” and “repent.” All of this has been carefully cataloged and funneled into the national and foreign press by Kevin Roderick’s widely read LA Observed website….Depending on how you look at things, we’re witnessing the digital execution of either decency and discretion or of a culture of excessive deference to power.

Did Ford beat professional reporters to the story, or is he, as an amateur, able to push stories that those who subscribe to professional ethics cannot? “Once called the Matt Drudge of Porn,” Ford was interviewed by LAist last week:

On January 29, I was just shooting the breeze with a fellow journalist and he reported this information about the mayor and that none of the mainstream journalists would be allowed by their editors to publish such a story.

I made some phone calls and sent out some emails and verified that what I had been told — that the mayor’s marriage was kaput — was true.

There seems to be an institutional group think at The Los Angeles Times that it is wonderful to have a hispanic mayor, that it’s wonderful to have a mayor who is a star, and that the mayor deserves the paper’s support….

I believe The Los Angeles Times wastes its resources and is overly fastidious about these types of stories (stories that their journalists on the beat know about but their editors are not interested in publishing)….I’ve never thought the big story is who the mayor’s girlfriend is. The bigger story is who the mayor is and how he operates. The even bigger story is what a lazy and inept monopoly newspaper is The Los Angeles Times, which had to be dragged kicking and screaming into covering the mayor seriously.

In the LA Weekly, David Zahniser says that

l’affaire Salinas is the logical endgame in an increasingly chummy L.A. media circle

and includes La Opinion and its “Alcalde, Yo Pregunto . . .” in his criticism.

2 thoughts on “Blogging Villaraigosa

  1. “Did Ford beat professional reporters to the story, or is he, as an amateur, able to push stories that those who subscribe to professional ethics cannot?”

    Neither. It’s more like he was a front-man for a sensitive story, so he could take the fall if something went wrong. Which, sigh, is not to say *he* thinks of himself that way.

    But really, read that first article critically:

    “it would have been virtually impossible to make it conform to the standards their editors enforced….The news of Villaraigosa’s marital difficulties was broken by a blogger, Luke Ford, then fleshed out by the Daily News, which immediately posted the story on its website. The paper’s editorial page editor set the tone for much of the subsequent commentary …”

    This contradicts itself so obviously that it’s a tribute to the blog propaganda that anyone can write it. First he says “standards”, then he shows how low the standards really are, and the contradiction is evident.

    It’s a recursive disproof of the story told of bloggers in general, that they get “played” so easily en masse by even the slightest media maneuvering.

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