I'm continually impressed by Glenn Greenwald's blog on Salon.com. His posts are lengthy, sure, but his writing is air-tight, and his dilligent updates dispel any potential confusion about his pieces. One of his latest posts, about NPR's dismissal of Juan Williams after he made clearly bigoted statements about Muslims, is particularly interesting. There are two parts: Part ONE and Part TWO.

Williams, who works for NPR but has become something of the resident liberal on Fox News, said the following on The O'Reilly Factor:
  •  Well, actually, I hate to say this to you because I don't want to get your ego going.  But I think you're right.  I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality. I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot.  You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country.  But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
NPR then fired him, saying in a statement that his comments were "inconsistent with editorial practices and standards." Greenwald's two subsequent blog posts combat the screams from right-wingers trying to position Williams as a "free speech martyr." Greenwald asks where these cries were when other, more liberal journalists who weren't denouncing Islam were when they were canned for being outspoken. While he does not say that he thinks NPR necessarily should have fired Williams, he does argue that if these critics of NPR are condemning Williams' firing, championing it as a censorship crusade, they should be equally critical of the firings of people like Octavia Nasr and Helen Thomas. He says, "The only thing worse than a bad standard is a bad standard that is applied unequally and discriminately." 

We can learn a lot from these two individual posts from Greenwald:
  • It's important to engage your readers, capitalizing on divisive stories, picking a stance and defending. It gets readers interacting and talking. Just look at the 967 comments that the second posts had garnered at last look.
  • Updates (clearly noted as such) can easily be used to respond to comments and criticisms and praises.
  • Link to other smart people who've written smart things about the topic.
  • Steer the conversation away from the obvious (in this case, whether NPR should have fired Wiliams in the first place) and bring something new to the debate.

3/28/2011 03:59:21 am

There is no rose without a thorn.


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