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« "Scoop" Lieberman | Main | Morphosis »

Ah Well, At Least I Got the Last Word

The Denver Post runs a brief profile of Jim Paine, proprietor of PirateBallerina, bane of Ward Churchill and his would-be protectors. I think Hughes overplays Paine's desire for privacy a little, since he has done email interviews with a number of bloggers, but on the whole, the piece is fair enough. Yours truly is quoted at the end, taking reporters to task for not doing their jobs.

What caught my eye was a some bellyaching from one of the professors who resigned from the academic committee investigating Churchill:

Paine had accused Johansen of being prone to "mutual back-scratching" because Churchill once endorsed a book he edited....

Johansen, who teaches journalism, said in an e-mail that Paine's gotchas are baseless and that he walked away from the committee because of what he saw as a nasty media environment surrounding the Churchill story, he said.

"Some in the Denver media seem to have surrendered their critical faculties to the bloggers," he said. "Paine steps up, rings his little bell and the dogs come running - or so it seems. From the outside, the level of hysteria is almost comical. As for myself, I wondered what has become of a sense of simple decency. ... A blog can be a democratizing influence, for sure, but so is a lynch mob."

I suppose some of this is the difference between teaching journalism and practicing it. If there was a record to be set straight, I'm pretty sure Johansen would have been given plenty of ink to do it. And you'd think that of all people, a professor of journalism would know how to get his side of the story into the papers. If he were really that upset, and really concerned with the integrity of the place, he could have made his case while still on the committee, or ridden it out.

But some of it is also the academic coccoon talking. Most of us without tenure consider oursevles to be "on the outside" of academia. Only light distorted by the thick glass separating college and the real world could persuade Johansen that he was on the outside looking in. After all, much of academia grandfathered out its critical faculties long ago, preferring orthodox, uncritical ones.


Well done: good quote, good post. I had similar thoughts & reactions to Johansen's remark. One would've thought he was describing academia much more than the blogosphere.

Johansen is an academic like Churchill is an academic. They both sing the same ethnic studies genocide song. Johansen's twist is that he was blonde in his younger years. Which is why he teaches in a Communications dept instead of an ES dept. It is not fair to smear all academics by pointing to the antics of such folk. Most of us don't consider that a science in any real sense. Ethnicity is worthy of being studied, but why should the academy support people who make a career out of airing ethnic grievances uncritically? Eliminate ethnic studies and education departments, and you'd still have a left-leaning academy, but you'd get rid of a good chunk of the extreme nutcases.

Congrats on getting the last word, and thanks for defending PB.

As it turns out, PB wasn't the only publication to "break" the conflict of interest story; the Daily Camera published a similar story November 2 (the same day PB published its story). I wasn't aware of the article, and the information I presented was info I'd discovered myself.

I didn't become aware of the Camera article until the next day, when it came up on Boulder Dirt, a website that appears to repub various news stories from other newspapers. I even linked to the Camera story when I found it (via Boulder Dirt), but assumed (I know, a bad idea) that the Camera had based their story on my research.

My guess is, PB and the Daily Camera arrived at the same story on the same day. But I still take credit for driving the story. Scooping the Denver media is fun, but I'll take getting the truth out there over a "scoop" any day.

Apparenly Johansen was working off the same assumption, but it makes his persecution complex all the more nonsensical.

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