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Journalist's name-calling disserves LA reading public

It’s a shame one member of the Louisiana media feels so threatened and insecure about how well he is doing as a journalist that he resorts to inflammatory name-calling and paranoiac musings to mask this – which must question his credibility to cover accurately and impartially the current election campaign

One Mark Ballard of the Baton Rouge Advocate, head of its capital bureau, apparently did not like that criticism (that I will take his word for that there was, since I listen so infrequently to talk radio and did not read of any) heaped onto the mainstream media about its reporting “questions about [Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep.] Bobby Jindal’s campaign tactics and strategies.” If it were in reference to a poorly-reasoned, factually-challenged editorial The Advocate had published criticizing Jindal for not having as many debates as it liked (to which Ballard may or may not have contributed, as he writes both for the news hole and the editorial page), that public was response was more than deserved.

(In fact, the only criticism I have seen of Ballard’s writing comes from Michael DiResto of the state’s Republican Party on a blog. And none of that was personal in nature, just a well-reasoned critique of the content of some recent columns by Ballard not even including anything about recent campaign tactic criticisms.)

Rather than moving on, in a recent opinion piece that attempts to link Jindal’s addition of a “debate” to that editorial (he didn’t ask Jindal whether it had but implies it had something to do with that decision), he described those who presented the critiques on talk radio and writing on the Internet as “Internet and talk radio terrorists.” Ballard seems blissfully unaware that around the world, some engaging directly with U.S troops, real terrorists with real weapons are killing people. To compare those with a different opinion than his to actual murderes not only dishonors U.S. soldiers and others who have died by terrorist activities, but obviously is an insensitive, deeply offensive labeling of innocent people exercising a fundamental right that Ballard apparently believes should be reserved only for his writing.

Maybe it’s a sense of paranoia that explains why Ballard so disregards good sense and courtesy. His “terrorist” label appears in the first sentence of the column; towards the end of it he writes (probably as a response to asking whether Jindal would do this) that “Jindal said he would ask his supporters to cease attacking those raising questions about his policy ideas, provided his Democratic opponents do the same.” Note that he makes it sound like Jindal controls an army of radio hosts and bloggers, with who the candidate is in regular contact directing their activities – which, it appears in Ballard’s mind, must have been given marching orders to rip into Ballard’s stuff. It’s a campaign apparatus of which I haven’t heard, and it’s probably news to Jindal, too.

Typically, such a reaction to criticism denotes somebody very afraid that his ideas are wanting and seeks to deflect attention from the superior arguments of his opposition by equating critics with pejorative terms. It’s shameful that Ballard stooped to this in print, and brings up questions whether such a person with these immature attitudes as revealed by his choice of prose, who also writes news stories about the fall elections, has the credibility to present honest and impartial accounts of campaign news – qualities the Louisiana public deserves in its quest to elect the best possible officials.

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