The Blog Squad

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Now that Johnson has stepped aside, will we hear any explanation from the T-D?

I nearly choked on my coffee yesterday when I read the T-D's editorial about the Stephen Johnson story. "Had School Board chairman Stephen Johnson gone trolling for companionship in a Richmond nightclub, few would have noticed or cared. Now he stands mortified for having the poor judgment to advertise himself on a Web site graphically explicit about the nature of what so many who go trolling seek. ..." What the T-D editorial writers fail to acknowledge is their own paper's leading role in this story. When are we going to hear the paper's explanation for running that story? My guess is Louise Seals will write something in Sunday's paper, at least that's my hope. I want to hear the justification for running it.

Mrs. Seals, if you are reading this, here are the questions I think people would like answered:
  1. What was your reasoning for going with this story?
  2. What made it an A-1 story?
  3. Would the paper have run the story if it had been a straight Web site? Did you talk about that in your discussions about the story?
  4. Was there much discussion about it? Was there strong opposition to running it?
  5. Did the person or persons who tipped you off give you their names? Did you take into consideration their motives?
Johnson, meanwhile, resigned his chairmanship but kept his 5th District seat on the board. He knows he did a stupid thing; he acknowledges it and takes full responsibility. Is the T-D ready to acknowledge its poor news judgment and take responsibility? As for the person or persons who set this ball rolling by tipping off the T-D — surely, we will never hear any acknowledgements from such cowards.

11 Comments:

At Tue Dec 06, 12:04:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I know the reason he had to resign. And no, I don't think it was his stupidity or lack of judgment. I think it was because we want out politicans chaste. We would rather our politicians act like castrated men with their boxy wives and 2 kids standing in front of them. Johnson made the mistake in believing that a politician could be an adult and have a sex life and not be criticized for it. But instead we have "journalists" calling his personal life decisions stupid and forcing him to resign.
And Janet it seems you have done a 180 since your original post.

 
At Tue Dec 06, 12:06:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I know the reason he had to resign. And no, I don't think it was his stupidity or lack of judgment. I think it was because we want out politicans chaste. We would rather our politicians act like castrated men with their boxy wives and 2 kids standing in front of them. Johnson made the mistake in believing that a politician could be an adult and have a sex life and not be criticized for it. But instead we have "journalists" calling his personal life decisions stupid and forcing him to resign.
And Janet it seems you have done a 180 since your original post.

 
At Tue Dec 06, 11:45:00 PM EST, Blogger Sterling said...

You're getting a little hysterical, Janet.

I don't have any kids, but if I did I'd be angry.

There are plenty of sexually licentious men and women in the world, and that's fine. But there are certain career fields that they're not welcome in, and one of them is education. How can he hold any teachers to a moral standard when he's out posting his half-naked photo on websites and trawling for transient sexual encounters?

It's not like someone went digging through his mail or is recounting something he did in high school or college. He had no expectation of privacy with this. He didn't give a crap what anyone thought, or he wouldn't have posted his freakin' photo.

Bottom line: he's an embarrassment and a liability, and he saps the board of education of any moral authority it still had. He should resign his seat and then run for it next time, if he still wants it.

 
At Wed Dec 07, 11:17:00 AM EST, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

all right, everybody calm down. anonymous (may i call you anon?), i have not done a 180 at all. i think he did a stupid thing. period. but we live in a time when people like me, who are paid to comment on things, are expected to look at a story or situation and stick their flag on one side or other of some imaginary line and then cite only facts that support their side. i don't do that. this is a situation that was the perfect storm of a case of personal bad judgment on the part of johnson, nefarious motives by the tipster(s) and lousy news judgment by the T-D. i am calling it as i see it. (gee i wish we were around a table with a cup of coffee instead of firing little paragraphs at each other...) i am not saying what should or shouldn't be, merely what is. a public official can't expect his private life to stay private anymore. not since we impeached a guy for having or not having sex (it depends on what your definintion of is is...) with someone other than his wife. so if a public official wants to stay in his job, maybe he shouldn't do stuff that will probably end up in the newspaper and cost him his job. simple enough.

 
At Wed Dec 07, 02:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Sterling said...

"(gee i wish we were around a table with a cup of coffee instead of firing little paragraphs at each other...)"

As a veteran of the Manhattan blog wars, I can assure you that it's better this way. People don't really start to go for the throat until they've actually MET their adversaries.

 
At Wed Dec 07, 04:15:00 PM EST, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

now we're adversaries? that's too bad. perhaps i'm not cut out for this. i am interested in reasoned debate among people who are respectful of differing opinions. i imagine those manhattan blog warriors would just find that sooo cute...

 
At Wed Dec 07, 04:40:00 PM EST, Blogger Sterling said...

Well, I don't think of you as an adversary, but you did say we were "firing" at each other. My intent was just to suggest that personal familiarity often has the opposite of the intended effect.

The nastiest fights have always been between blogs with the same topic coverage topics. See, the bloggers operate(d) on the assumption that blogs can make them rich and famous, so there are stakes, though they're mostly illusory. I don't think anyone in Richmond is actually operating under the assumption that a blog will pave the way to sunshine, happiness and regular status at Elaine's.

 
At Thu Dec 08, 04:23:00 PM EST, Blogger Greg Weatherford said...

Janet, I'm with you on this. Johnson isn't even a teacher, so the "what-about-the-children" excuse doesn't hold water no matter how you look at it.

He was politically foolish, no doubt about it, and the topic was worth a story, maybe inside the Metro section. But A-1 lead-story material? Only if being gay is still a shocking revelation to the editors.

 
At Fri Dec 09, 04:58:00 PM EST, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

interesting, don't you all think, that there has not been word one from any of the T-D columnists?

 
At Sat Dec 10, 04:25:00 PM EST, Blogger Wulf said...

Johnson isn't even a teacher, so the "what-about-the-children" excuse doesn't hold water no matter how you look at it.

Yeah, because only teachers are in a position to be role models. (sigh) Come on, Greg. Besides which, Johnson and the entire school board are hypocrites if they give anything less than a standing ovation to any teacher or staff member caught in a similar situation in the future. The kids know it. What about the kids in that regard?

To be sexually explicit in a public forum is simply not acceptable in our society. For a comedian, sure, but not for a politician or education professional. Johnson is both, and he sets an example with his behavior. The children in RPS have learned from this incident that it is okay to go to explicit sites open to the public - you won't lose your job, and in fact you will be applauded. Great - just the message I wanted the public school system to give my children.

 
At Sat Dec 10, 08:53:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what the children may have learned is that there is a difference between public and private life. and that's an important distinction to make. Personally, I would rather have Bill Clinton back in office, affairs and all, rather than this corrupt joke of a president we have now. Johnson was not doing anything illegal nor did it have anything to do with his job performance. The point is if he wanted to go out to a club and have anonymous one night stands no one would be wiser but because he used the internet suddenly it's a bad influence.
society has alot of growing up to do obviously.

 

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