May 12, 2007

Now Here's an Interesting Development

Justin Katz

I'm not sure what its significance is, but a Warwick Daily Times story, by Matt Bower, on the Yorke/Avedisian kerfuffle places the story largely in the context of blogs and their commenters:

Matt Jerzyk, administrator of the generally liberal RIFuture blog,, said he wrote a post the next day expressing his outrage that the media was staying silent about Yorke's comments, rather than holding him accountable and taking him to task. ...

"Anytime we get over 20 comments on a post, it's considered a pretty hot issue. A lot of people were weighing in with their opinions on the matter," he said. ...

When Mark Comtois from the generally conservative AnchorRising blog,, got wind of Jerzyk's post, he wrote a blog entry of his own asking whether or not bloggers have a responsibility regarding the comments on their blogs. ...

Justin Katz, administrator for AnchorRising, said bloggers need to be careful about spreading rumors that they may have heard.

"I think Matt's outrage is ludicrous and it's bizarre to believe that outing someone - the idea that that could affect someone politically and adversely is bizarre," he said. "The leftists see an opportunity to silence a voice that they want out of the media. It's almost as if we're requiring gay politicians to have a stance on [their own] gayness, which raises issues for concern."

Katz said there's value to the area in which public figures' lives aren't spelled out and scripted.

"I think there's a humanity lost if we start requiring a checklist of what we're allowed to say about each other," he said.

The fact that the story centers on a blog debate puts blogs in the position of being generators of news. That, of itself, isn't particularly unique at this point, but the number of commenters whom Bower quotes strikes me as a new development — almost as if blogs can become a repository for quickly available and easily quotable man-on-the-street reactions.

Frankly, I'm not altogether sure that such a thing would be a healthy development. One doesn't often read news stories in which the reporter writes, "One person I stopped on the street said X. Some guy sitting at a table outside the local coffee shop thought Y." (I'd categorize separately lazy/suspicious constructions such as "some people feel.") With an abetting blogger, anonymous commenters — perhaps each pretending to be multiple different people — can now generate the impression of a movement within minutes and reach a large audience of not-necessarily-tech-savvy print news readers within days. Just look at the upshot in this particular case: Matt and a bunch of nicknamed commenters manufactured some outrage, and now a print media source has given their production old-media credibility. Here's a well-lubricated chute for the creation of political avalanches out of a little spit and froth.

On the other hand (or perhaps on the same hand, I suppose), this dynamic clearly presents people a channel through which to discuss matters — such as the evolving significance of politicians' sexuality and society's reaction thereto — but have felt it improper to raise on a public stage for quite some time. Perhaps there is grounds for faith that free expression and a growing reward for participation are ultimately beneficial, despite opportunity for abuse.

The relevant page at RI Future appears to be unavailable for the time being. It may be some sort of technical glitch, but until Matt resolves it, here's the Google cache.

The original post is back up, and the only thing that I can spot that's changed from the cached version is that comment #27, by Mike, has been deleted. It read as follows:

Oh, Matt-everyone, and I mean everyone, in Warwick has known he was gay for years. I don’t think he’ll be running to the courthouse to file a defamation complainyt. LOL.

Of course, the cache is short 50-some comments from the actual post, so who knows what else Matt might have deemed inappropriate in that range. Other comments make it clear that Mike had other posts, and their disappearance is particularly peculiar, given comments to this post. I'd be curious what Mike might have said to become erased from the page that was more worrisome, from a blogger's standpoint, than comment 46.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Question: Since Yorke is willing to delve into the personal life of a politician he doesn't like (artfully done, raising it during a rant against Cicciline), is Yorke's personal life now fair game?
Danny Boy has opened a Pandora's box that he risks seeing blow up in his face.

Posted by: Rhody at May 12, 2007 10:33 AM

I myself don't belong to any political party nor do I live in Warwick and I've never met Scott Avedisian yet I've been aware that Scott Avedisian is gay long before Dan Yorke said anything.
Not a big deal never has been and isn't now. Liberals are trying to 'Imus" Yorke by attempting to trump up this non story as a way to silence him because they don't like his politics. Since Yorke was not attacking Avedisian or insulting him over his homosexuality this is pretty darn weak attempt even for these weakling liberals.
Btw the quality of this article makes Matt Bower seem like he's just out of high school. The text of the story is primarily quotes from an internet message board? Amateur hour! Makes Boyer more than qualified to contribute to 'generally liberal' RIFuture's blog. lol

Posted by: Tim at May 12, 2007 11:34 AM

As an alternative to Google cache, click on the "RIF" logo at the top of that page, and it'll take you to the start of the blog (although the Yorke entry has slid down to the second page - go to the bottom of the first page to access it).
Tim, I wasn't impressed with that Daily Times story, either, but if you know anything about the outfit that just bought it, I'm not shocked. It just got through gutting and filleting the Woonsocket Call, and the Pawtucket Times is next on the block. This outfit had a great opportunity to establish itself as an alternative to the ProJo (and make some money in the process), but is fumbling it away.
I find it interesting that the Phoenix has been silent on the whole thing - I figured Ian would've weighed in by now, at least online.

Posted by: rhody at May 12, 2007 12:49 PM

So.... When a radio personality says something potentially embarassing in passing that took less than five seconds to say and was probably MISSED by more people than heard it (Yorke states his ratings at somewhere around 70,000 listeners and they're not all listening at once) the best way to make sure it doesn't continue to hurt that person is to make it such a popular topic on your blog that the local newspaper takes it up and makes it a story?

So the thing that was only heard by a few thousand radio listeners has now been ready by potentially hundreds or thousands of blog readers and now hundreds or thousands of newspaper readers.

Way to protect Scott's 'privacy' there, Matt.

Posted by: Greg at May 12, 2007 3:23 PM

No, Rhody, it's not there. Either there's been a technical glitch, or the post has been disappeared.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 12, 2007 4:23 PM

Justin, you're right. It must've been taken down this afternoon. I saw it this morning, and it was up to about 70 responses.
Matt owes us an explanation of why he took it down. Did somebody from the Avedesian camp ask him to? Did somebody from the Yorke camp threaten him?
I love how these blog-related stories evolve. We've now gone from the involuntary outing of a public official to a mysterious blog posting removal.

Posted by: Rhody at May 12, 2007 6:13 PM

"We've now gone from the involuntary outing of a public official to a mysterious blog posting removal."

Does Al Sharpton have an alibi?

Posted by: SusanD at May 12, 2007 9:11 PM

Maybe Matt was tired from being up late with OBAMA worrying about the 10,000 killed in Kansas and accidently deleted that thread.

Posted by: David Davis at May 13, 2007 8:45 AM

"OBAMA worrying about the 10,000 killed in Kansas"

David, David, David. Ya gotta learn to relax. What's three decimal points between friends??

Posted by: SusanD at May 13, 2007 9:16 AM


You might be onto something here. And just when we thought Obama was a straight talking Democrat. lol
Perhaps Jerzyk hit the delete button on the Yorke thread as he was hyperventilating while watching his socialist Xanadu Rhode Island going down the drain? Has anyone asked Chcken Little why that thread came down?

Posted by: Tim at May 13, 2007 9:55 AM

I find it hysterical that the same thread where Matt professed that he doesn't censor his blog has disappeared in an apparent censorship move. Maybe, days later, Matt figured out that his publicity of this issue wasn't good for SCOTT. The silence is deafening.

Posted by: Greg at May 13, 2007 10:41 AM

FWIW, the Yorke post is back at the top of RIF, with a brief update on the Warwick Daily Times story.
Keeping in mind Yorke's comments about bloggers, Danny won't have to worry about keeping one hand on his keyboard when he returns to the air tomorrow.

Posted by: rhody at May 13, 2007 2:29 PM

Justin et. al,

Wow. You all have alot of time on your hands. I "updated" the Yorke story on Saturday and "scheduled" it to be re-published for Sunday morning after a bunch of other posts. I thought my blog program would keep the post in place until it was "re-published." I guess what happened is that the program took the post down until it was re-published. I obviously know not to do that now. But, a simple email to me would have answered that question, folks. No need to concoct conspiracies!

On the "Mike" comments front, Mike is engaged in an email conversation with myself and our blog's technical administrator about why his comment's are being spam harvested and removed. To repeat, none of his comments have been removed by me. They are being redirected by a program and we are trying to fix it.

Oh, and by the way, the Yorke post was updated again.

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at May 14, 2007 9:09 AM

The problem with me posting on RI Future has been cleared up. It was, apparently, a software problem and not content based.

Posted by: Mike at May 16, 2007 7:31 AM

Thanks for the update, Mike. We'll relax the conspiracy watch.

Posted by: SusanD at May 17, 2007 9:47 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.