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Some media moaning about ‘anonymous bloggers’

I don’t tend to do “media bashing” on here a lot, particularly of Canadian media. I’ve met quite a few of them, from all sides of the media spectrum, either at blogging events or at leadership conventions (from the Sun, from the National Post, from the Globe and Mail, from Macleans, and from the Star). In general, there is not a “blogger-journalist” rivalry as pronounced as we have seen in the United States, or “New Media vs Mainstream Media” etc. Most of us get along fine with each other.

I’m not about to engage in a lot of it, but I saw a column from David Akin of Sun Media (at the blog he does, ironically enough) that I need to say a few things about (and I’ve met and talked with David, and he’s a friendly guy, so I’m not doing this column because I’m going to bash Sun Media, because a couple of his journalistic companions from the Star and Globe have tweeted their agreement).

Basically, David is lauding a blogger’s work he does on seeing how many patronage appointments the Conservative government under Harper has done, by political affiliation (from the Sixth Estate, a blogging affiliate of ours at Progressive Bloggers, so there’s my disclosure; call it a bias in the Sixth Estate’s defense if you like), but then complains about the blogger being anonymous, and then gives a list of why a journalist who would have presented this is more “credible”.

My rebuttal to that is: If the statements presented by Sixth Estate is accurate, why does it matter if the Sixth Estate is anonymous or not? (I’m sure some of those journalists out there could fact-check Sixth Estate’s points and see if they’re correct or not, if they were motivated to seek out the truth).

Sometimes anonymity is used to hide a vested interest, this is true, but some have valid reasons. The Harper Government and allies online who pull witch hunts every time someone posts some inconvenient facts against their agenda is a very big one. I’ve changed my thinking on anonymity a bit since I first started blogging and started running Progressive Bloggers – I once was totally against it, but my thinking on it has changed over the years, more so since I saw what Harper and company liked to do with people who publicly opposed them. You can ask my friends at Pogge about that – we had a spirited discussion about it at one time. I still think that sometimes anonymity can be used for motivated self interest or to attack people in the hopes of no recriminations – but it is also justified in a lot of other cases).

In short, and in conclusion, (and to raise another point about journalists who cry about anonymous bloggers), when they stop using “anonymous sources” for their stories, (folks who often are being anonymous to get their own self-interested points out – see “anonymous Liberal insiders” or anonymous MP’s during the last two leaders of Dion and Ignatieff – folks they were all too eager to quote), I’ll take their tut-tutting of anonymous blogging more seriously.

(PS – I don’t know who the Sixth Estate is either, if you’re wondering).

PPS @ 9:33 am: Let me put it another way. Let’s for a moment presume Sixth Estate’s findings are found to be accurate – the numbers on the political appointees and so forth. I find that to be much more “credible” then a media journalist gleefully quoting an “insider” who’s doing a smear job on his own party leader (or another party for that matter) that only seems to be getting anonymity because he doesn’t want to known as the person doing the smearing. I could care less if a blogger is anonymous or not – provided the statements he puts out is indeed fact or accurate. Journalists should be ascribing to the same view, I would hope.


11 comments to Some media moaning about ‘anonymous bloggers’

  • I’m late to this party but someone just let me know my name had been mentioned.

    Two points. The first is to note the difference between anonymous and pseudonymous. As pogge, I have a track record going back almost ten years now in a variety of venues.

    The second is just one of the arguments I bring up at times like this: I don’t have to sign my ballot so why should I have to sign my blog post?

  • Stan

    Watch how the left are calling in fake 911 calls on their political opponents.
    You don’t see the right doing that, but then the right have morals.
    No wonder many people choose anonymity, the left are so hate filled and crazy any type of violence from them is possible.

  • Stan

    Good job shutting down the comments on the Toews thread, after all you were getting quite a spanking.

  • Observer

    One of the big draws of a newspaper is their editorials. Or in Akin’s parlance: an anonymous unsigned blog opinion.

    Even if they let you know who is on their editorial board that doesn’t tie a specific editorial back to a specific person. It’s the people who write by committee who are in fact the cowards. Who is writing those editorials when they go on vacation anyways?

    Here’s an anonymous opinion in Akin’s Sun ( that says in part: “Requiring adult cyclists to wear helmets makes so much sense, we’re amazed it isn’t already the law in Ontario”. Who’s “we” Kimosabe? I for one would like to know who the nanny-staters are that are hiding down there at the Toronto Sun. The cowards. David Akin: you better get on this.

    • Beerbob

      I’ve got a good idea. If someone is injured riding a bike without a helmet, they are still covered by Medicare. Except for injuries to the head. That way, it’s a free country, and my taxes don’t have to pay for the childish stupidity of some “rugged individualist”. You see, part of a social contract that includes single payer health care includes asking adults to show an infinitesimal bit of personal responsibility. Even if they passed a law requiring bicycle helmets, people would still be able to go without them – except that once in a while, they’d get a fifty buck fine and a reprimand from an adult police officer.

      Obviously, you are free to ride your bike without a helmet, but how is that different from riding a motorcycle without a helmet? Do you have a problem with that regulation too? In fact, in a good many crashes involving motorcycles, wearing a helmet is the difference between an open or closed coffin (very cheap for Medicare). Riding a bicycle, the helmet can protect you from a fractured skull (very expensive). It’s all about understanding risks and consequences. Like an adult.

      I hope that this has given you a reason to think about this matter. It’s pretty clear that you haven’t much up until now.

      • Observer


        Please follow along slowly:
        The post is about anonymous blogging. Conservatives like to complain about “nanny-staters”. The conservative paper that David Akin works for *anonymously* wrote an editorial that was pro-nanny state. Thus highlighting, in one random example, the relative silliness of his stance.

        Using the bike helmet reference wasn’t about being pro bike helmet or anti bike helmet. It was an example in support of a different argument.

        You’re just not very smart. Really don’t know what else to say.

        • Beerbob

          Well, I might not be very smart. Your comment, however is easily subject to misinterpretation. So, let’s just leave it at me not being very smart, and you being semi-literate.

  • shadow12ea

    At one time I also thought to remain anonymous was rather cowardly, then of course things changed. If someone is employed in the federal service & critizes their own department, that is a firing offense.

    Given the vindictiveness of stevie slime & the slimers I understand why people would want to remain anonymous. For me its not a problem. I am retired. There isn’t anything they can really do to me, well maybe send a CSIS officer if they don’t like me, but that would only have some entertainment value for me.

    Now as to anonomyous sources, how often do we hear the phrase on T.V., radio, newspaper, mags, etc. Everybody uses them & not all newspaper articles are signed. Editorials are supposed to be written by “the editor” but really how many of them are.

    This is a new world where not all people play by the established rules. Some people & their sources need to remain anonymous because they have to earn a living, have a family, don’t want to be harassed, etc.

    • Stan

      Google ‘swatting’ you poor deluded fool.
      You know, where the supposedly peaceful leftwing make fake murder calls to 911 and hopes the person gets killed by the cops?
      You hate filled scumbags should try looking in a mirror sometime.

      • Beerbob

        How is the crime of “swatting” specifically associated with the left? In Canada? I mean outside your brain, that is.

  • Redrum

    Besides not wanting to get harassed, vandalized or worse by partisans in one’s own community for speaking out,

    or fired or otherwise disciplined by one’s employer for either opposing their favoured views or bringing unwanted attention to them (when a BloggingTory creeps them & talks about or even complains directly to their employer (OutlawTory & BC Blue, I’m looking at you),

    another important reason for preferring to remain anonymous is to be eligible for a civil service job, which people must be non-partisan & cleared for in security checks.

    And if you look at 6th Estate’s disclosure page that Akin linked — “currently unemployed” — that may have been their paramount consideration; unemployed writer/ researchers interested in politics & policy would obviously want to be eligible for a government job.

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