Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hiltzik drubbed again

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik is getting roasted once again for basic errors of logic and fact. Hiltzik, who has had some unsatisfying rounds attacking Patterico, went after conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt on his blog. Hiltzik used some dubious methodology to conclude that Hewitt's Web readership is declining. Hiltzik also failed to cite comparable readership stats for his own blog at the LAT.

Independent Sources
has done a clean and meticulous take-down of Hiltzik's numerology.

Just for the record, I don't like Hewitt's blog. It's far too lockstep partisan for my taste, just like Daily Kos on the left. And Hewitt cherry-picks his data. He cites a Washington Post article about angry left bloggers to back up his contention that the Democratic left is venom-filled. Trouble is, the story doesn't prove its thesis that there's a growing angry left blogosphere. It doesn't show that the ALBs are increasing their viewing audience, and doesn't compare their audience over time with that of angry right-wing bloggers. Such numbers can be compiled, but they are not in the story. Hewitt should know enough not to rely on this anecdotal journalism.

But that doesn't excuse Hiltzik for being careless with the facts. And as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Hiltzik has a reputation to uphold. By not taking his blogging or his critics seriously enough, Hiltzik is tarnishing that reputation.

This is not a matter of liberal vs. conservative. It is a matter of basic factual accuracy. Considering how much grief the traditional media has had in coming to grips with the Internet, one would think Hiltzik would be extra scrupulous to avoid errors, and to promptly admit mistakes and apologize when he does make them. A little contrition would go a long way.

Thanks to the kind folks at Blue Crab Boulevard for alerting me to this story. I'm adding Independent Sources to my regular reading list.

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