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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Credibility (Updated)

Last week, one of my posts was linked by Samantha Henig on the Columbia Journalism Review Daily blog, which would have been nice if my post hadn’t been utterly mischaracterized by Henig. See, she linked to a post that discussed teaching black American history as a separate class from the rest of American history, but her entire post was centered around bloggers “foaming at the mouth” about Ebonics--and she cast me in with that same group.

Context?

But the correctional didn’t come soon enough. We’re not the only ones who caught wind of the July 17 piece, and (not surprisingly) not everyone out there took the time to realize the true thrust of the article—namely, that only one woman was saying Ebonics should be included in the program. Bloggers (and most likely local readers of the paper) were quickly foaming at the mouth.

So for all of the writers for local newspapers who think their articles won’t make an impact, check out the furor sparked by one misleading piece in the San Bernadino County Sun: furor, furor, furor, furor, and more furor.

ResurrectionSong was linked as “more furor.”

I emailed Henig last week, clarifying that my post did not once mention Ebonics and was related to the greater commentary only because the same article that I referenced was referenced by quite a few others. In fact, I first found the article linked on Michelle Malkin’s site but was less interested in the Ebonics story than I was the (to me) atrocious idea of treating black American history as somehow separate from American history.

As of this morning, I’ve neither heard from Henig nor seen a correction on CJR Daily. I’ll be generous and assume that she didn’t receive the email, but that doesn’t change the larger, more humorous, fact that her post was about a misleading article in the San Bernadino County Sun. Humorous, of course, because she must not have even bothered to read my post, instead relying on the fact that it was linked by a few of the bloggers who were writing about the Ebonics issue (links that I reciprocated as I noticed them, still never mentioning Ebonics).

I’m personally happy that Ebonics won’t be a part of the program discussed in that original article, but that neither changes my opinion on splintering up American history by racial groupings nor makes my post any more about Ebonics than it was before.

Update: Ms. Henig has responded and responded quite well. Well enough, in fact, that I wish I had waited another day to have written this post.

Dear Mr. Jones,

Thank you for your e-mail.  When I linked to your post, I was aware that it wasn’t about the Ebonics debate in particular.  But since the thrust of the article in the San Bernadino County Sun actually *wasn’t* really about the Ebonics proposal (which was one of my biggest problems with the piece, given that the headline and lede implied that it would be about the Ebonics debate) but rather was about a vaguely defined program targeting African American students, I thought putting in a link to a post that dealt with those broader questions would be interesting.

I guess I did sort of lump your post together with the posts talking about Ebonics, and I’m sorry if you think that was misleading.  In an earlier draft, I described each post with a little more detail, but when I edited for concision I decided that just linking to the posts instead of describing them was sufficient to show what an impact this discussion was having on the blogosphere.

Best,
Samantha

From me, a thanks for the clarification and a good reply. Fair enough in that I do still think that her post was a bit misleading, but I also understand how it made complete sense to the writer.


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