Episcopal Convention in Anaheim Leads to New York Times-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Pissing Match

Went to hang with Episcopal Church leaders and a New York Times-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette blood feud broke out.
Perhaps you read earlier in the week about Episcopal Church leaders pow-wowing in Anaheim, where they lifted a ban on the ordination of gay bishops. It made the print and/or online editions of the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report, The Advocate and hundreds of other news outlets including, of course, the national paper of record, the New York Times.

But a report in that last news source has generated a virtual tug-of-war between The Gray Lady's reporter Laurie Goodstein and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religion editor Frank Lockwood, who raises questions on his BibleBeltBlogger about whether Goodstein was at the convention to collect the quotes in her Tuesday story, which carried an Anaheim dateline.

"The New York Times is playing fast and loose with its own ethical standards. Again," Lockwood writes. "Take a look at this story and you'll see what I mean. Google the quotes and see if you can find ANY that weren't lifted off of press releases or other people's stories--several without attribution."

Lockwood continues that he was at the General Convention all week, never encountered anyone from the New York Times "and I was looking."

"In fact, I was told by church spokeswoman Neva Fox on Sunday afternoon that the Times hadn't sent a reporter to the convention," states Lockwood. "So I was started to see a story bearing an Anaheim dateline pop up on the Times' website at 6:57 a.m. Pacific Time this morning. [And Transfigurations.blogspot.com says the story was already online at 4:43 a.m. Pacific Time.] That's awfully early to be wrapping up interviews and to be putting the finishing touches on a story."

His post goes on to show various sources from outside the convention floor where he assumes Goodstein pulled her quotes.

Needless to say, Goodstein was not amused at being outed by BibleBeltBlogger, as indicated in Lockwood's follow-up, "NYT Reporter Admits She Did Dateline Toe Touch, Asks BBB to Take Down Post." He posts the email he received from her:


Well it sure would have been collegial, not to say ethical, for you to check with the subject of your "reporting" before you posted it on your blog.

So I will volunteer this information that you did not ask for: we had a reporter from our LA bureau covering the convention and the news conference last night as we realized news was breaking (she has the contributor line in our story today). I was on a plane from New York, arrived in Los Angeles after midnight LA time, got to the hotel, and wrote the story you saw on the web this morning, with the help of our reporter's information and the wires.

Collegially, as the Episcopalians might say, I request that you take your post down. It is an unfair attack job. Also, it is wrong.

Since we have corresponded before, I just do not understand why you did not ask me directly, instead of sending emails to people in the media center here who work for virtueonline.com to ask about my whereabouts.

As you know, with a convention this long, it was hard to determine which days to cover. I gambled that the news would occur towards the end, not the beginning. And here I am.

And you are .....where right now?


Laurie Goodstein

National Religion Correspondent

The New York Times

Lockwood was unswayed, and the post Goodstein requested be censored was still up on BibleBeltBlogger as this Navel Gazing post went up.

"Bottom line--there's no evidence that any reporting was done in Anaheim and there's lots of evidence that all of the quotes were taken directly from IntegrityUSA and the public relations wing of the Episcopal Church: Not, as Goodstein claims, from wire services," Lockwood writes. "The Times owes readers an explanation."

The "dateline toe touch"--a term which has eluded this blogger, although the practice has not--is pretty common in the news biz. Heck, as a night cops reporter at a daily, there were surely times that, say, a traffic collision story had the dateline of the city is happened in despite the reporter being in the office in another town, although a photographer usually did go to the scene so it could be justified that someone from the paper was there.

It's something we've witnessed from the Weekly's ivory tower, most recently when R. Scott Moxley was in a Fullerton courtroom for weeks covering the trial of Sheriff's Deputy Christopher David Hibbs, who in April was acquitted of wrongdoing in zapping with a Taser gun a handcuffed suspect. The Orange County Register's initial trial wrap-up had a Fullerton dateline despite Moxley having seen neither of the two reporters bylined in the story. That first Register report was based solely on the word of the defense attorney, but after Moxley's on-the-spot story uncovered some explosive details that would further split the District Attorney's Office and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the Register's newsroom made some quick phone calls and came back with Moxley's original angle.

But that's the Orange County Register. One doesn't expect that kind of shit at the New York Times.

Erm, check that: Times Watch, "documenting and exposing the liberal political agenda of the New York Times," obviously expected it.

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