The free software journalism club
After I posted yesterday's call for stories from or about people who claim to have had comment posts deleted from Groklaw, I received an email from Pamela Jones asking me why I was "doing this." Since such a question presumes a certain level of conspiracy, I replied that the call for stories is self-explanatory -- if what people have said is true, this is a significantly interesting story for my readers, many of whom (perhaps wrongly) consider Groklaw an impartial source.
The next email I got on the subject was from Ziff Davis Enterprise editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, accusing me of attacking Jones in a public forum (The Jem Report) via my call for stories, and advising me that this is not tolerable on his Internet Press Guild mailing list, of which I have been an active member for a few months. He then kicked me off the IPG list. It seems you aren't allowed to write about Steven J Vaughan-Nichols' friends, or question the operational practices of Web sites friendly to free software ideals, and remain an IPG member. This is a sad day for me, not because I am now an outcast -- on the contrary, that's the best part! -- but because a writer I'd held a great deal of professional respect for sacked me because -- I know this is bizarre -- I was being too much of a journalist. I am sad because I thought SJVN was a pillar of professional journalism, the sort of guy who would encourage a hard charger like me to chase important stories like this one. That Vaughan-Nichols would kick me from an unofficial online journalism group to pressure me into killing a story and to show support for his friend Pamela Jones is, to me, shocking and heartbreaking. Unfortunately, among journalists who are also members of the free software social/political movement, there are questions you are not allowed to ask, people you are not allowed to write about, and personal politics and cronyism trump professional obligation. So let's clear a few things up and air some dirty laundry, shall we?