Golden State blog tarnished? Hardly…

Last night saw the suspension of Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times comes at a particularly hysterical time for journalism, thanks, of course, to the New York Post‘s Jared Paul Stern, who was canned today.

The raison for Hiltzik’s suspension, per the LA Times own website, isthus:

“The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on latimes.com. Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.”

Its a bizarre, if fascinating conundrum: Interactivity is something that the newspaper business has only recently embraced, and nowhere more tardily than the LA Times, which only last year embraced blogging with a vengeance.

And at the root of online discourse is anonymous posting. It enables the public, and indeed, newsmakers, to safely share in the dialog that a free press produces.

Should or shouldn’t reporters enjoy that same freedom when posting anonymously? Aren’t we (with apologies to kids everywhere) “people, too?”

Hiltzik might have cloaked his identity – something seemingly at variance with the Times’ policies – but what he did was hardly lying or for that matter, extortion.

Based on the actions of the Times, it would seem that the maxim, “Freedom of the press belongs to anyone who owns one” isn’t exactly true after all.

We hope to see him back soon.