Two of my local favorites, Michael Horne and the Brew City Brawler, react to Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy's deft defense of the mag's lately contentious profile of police chief Edward Flynn.
It turns out the chief and his starry-eyed admirer-scribe ended up bumping uglies but according to Murphy, that consummation was adequately removed in time from the editorial completion of the profile so that any appearance of bias is purely coincidental.
I never thought there was much news value to the private trysting and arguably, neither did Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel investigative reporter Daniel Bice, who draped the sordid details on the hook of "journalistic ethics," suggesting in his original report that the affair was ongoing during the production of the 5,400-word feature.
But now it appears that that premise has been blown up.
Nevertheless, Bruce Murphy asks readers whether he should expunge the freelance author from his Rolodex while others ponder her future as an academic (at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she "lectures" aspiring young writers in, inter alia, "ethics," which is a lot of a farce on its face, thus precluding much further inquiry).
Why McBride didn't just suck it up and straighten Bice out in advance of his publishing the story is a mystery, given her alleged area of expertise. It's true she would have had to admit the affair, but she must have known it was going to get revealed eventually somehow, since it's been common knowledge in certain circles for weeks.
It also would have presented the perfect opportunity to "lecture" Bice on his own apprehension of journalistic ethics, to the extent that McBride's personal pursuits are entirely her own business and certainly none of Mr. Dan Bice's, let alone that of his fan base.
It's one thing to dissect and criticize somebody's political opinions or tenuous and stilted grasp of facts, but the right to personal privacy is sacrosanct in my book, and in a perfect world would be in everyone's.
If Daniel Bice had had the timeline before last Friday, he'd have had to at the very least reconsider his angle, and possibly even pass on the story altogether, or else shifted its focus instead onto the chief of police as opposed to McBride and Milwaukee Magazine.
You'd think a university "lecturer" in journalism might anticipate the deleterious effects of failing to return the dogged Bice's phone calls.
Because it works something like this: When the national readership of the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the rest scans the headlines — maybe even a paragraph or two, if you're really lucky — and notices that Milwaukee Magazine was reportedly implicated in a sexytime ethics scandal, ex post facto damage control is never, ever enough to correct or even mitigate the initial impression made.
Now that is Journalism 101. And just maybe, it's why at least one of Mr. Murphy's stable of freelancers has warranted the second look.