OK. This is a little essay about a journalist I’m torn about. So, I’m just going to lay it out and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe it will serve as a collection of unsolicited advice to him and make him a better writer for it. Who knows. In this day and age, it will probably be taken as an attack and I’ll end up absorbing blows and other forms of insult for it — from him and his supporters, alike.
Oh well. I have never been one to shy away from trouble, so here it is.
Bill Palmer and his hyper-popular resistance blog, the Palmer Report (LINK). You either love him, or you hate him. If you love him, it’s because he says all the right things about just the right person that you despise: Donald Trump.
If you hate him, it’s because you consider him a conspiracy theorist and a hack of a journalist.
I am both of these critics.
I’ll start by saying I love his writing. Technically and artistically, he’s sound as a pound. Sterling silver. I haven’t seen his C.V., but I must deduce from reading hundreds of pages of his copy that he has a degree in creative writing. I dig this in any writer. When you can tell they’ve been formally trained. Mentored at some point in their studies. So, point to Bill.
As a game theorist and investigative journalist, I adore his ability to connect dots. His knack for breaking wild, bucking theoretical broncos into a logical corral is gold-medal quality stuff. Say what you want about his theories, they always make a lot of logical sense.
But, that’s where it ends, for me. There’s a laundry list of issues he needs to improve upon before he gets my seal of approval.
I’ll kick it off with his presentation. Not many of the people who will be reading this know that I was once a website “information architect.” Not a website designer. Oh, my, no. That’s a whole other set of skills way out of my purview (regardless of my insistence on once playing the amateur web designer out of a cocksure insistence on rocking all things pixelated). The firm I was with in the mid 2000’s contracted that artistic specialty out to a crack team of the “Mexican” intellectual labor of Europe: the Polish (they work on the cheap like our Southern neighbors).
Back to the concept of info-architecture (and I swear it is relevant, here). It’s doubtful you even know what an info-architect is (I mean, why would you)? Quick primer: they dream up how a website will best be presented — aesthetically and functionally — then they send the plans to designers, who then make it work; and to the graphic designers, who pretty it up, proper.
Palmer doesn’t have the expertise to design blueprints for even the most basic website, and certainly has no design or artistic expertise. He doesn’t have the skills, and as you’ll see below, he doesn’t have the resources to farm it out, either. Because he has neither, his website looks little better than the old, painfully-ugly Angelfire websites of the 1990’s:
So, it’s ugly.
That’s one thing. But, layered into it is a SPAM garden of foul. You’ll notice in the screen-grab above, the bevy of spam advertisements throughout. Sickly ads that pay his bills while he writes. Unfortunately for Bill, he has no editorial control over who gets to advertise on his website, so he ends up with non-FDA approved Viagra substitutes and penis enlargement devices alongside Russian dating service ads.
It all just takes away from any credibility his content may have had.
Then there’s the journalistic credibility issues.
As good as the logical hypotheses he may make, his journalistic techniques and general ethics are sorely lacking. For example, when he does provide source links, they lead back to his former essays as if they are legitimate source for his claims. It is a rarity that he provides any outside links to back up his claims. As if the reader is supposed to take his word for the veracity of the dots he is connecting.
It doesn’t work like that, and even a first-year undergraduate in a journalism program knows this as rote. He / she was already well-versed in this set of rules by the time he / she graduated high school. So, shame on Bill Palmer for that.
Then, to top it off, Palmer ends every article with a cup in an outstretched hand, begging for spare change. Worse, he follows even that with a request for his users to visit another group of clickbait websites from which he will enrich himself a little more.
And, worse on top of worse, Palmer ends with a “gimme your email address” request under the guise of offering you his articles before he publishes. This, first of all, isn’t honest, as you receive the articles in your inbox simultaneously as they are published. And, secondly, your email ends up used to send other offers from 3rd party advertisers to further “go fund him.”
In a nutshell, as much as I love reading Bill Palmer’s content in his Palmer Report (LINK), I can never suggest it to any respectable reader. It’s not even worthy toilet reading, Sorry Bill. And, sorry loyal readers of his blog (I know a handful). There are better outlets to satiate your thirst for Trump takedown news.
Source in media — especially citizen media — is king. It is pretty apparent that Bill Palmer doesn’t get this concept. His technique gives his creative fancy and apparently his wallet their freedom to maintain their “independence.” But, they don’t do the pursuit of the journalistic art any justice. If you are in the market for good citizen journalism — reporting based on ethics the ethics of truth and sourcing to back it up, might I recommend Magnana Mouse (LINK)?
Magnana Mouse is a magazine that is easily as opinionated as a Bear Jew (shout out to Quintin Tarantino’s extreme Nazi-hunter saga’s hero, Donnie Donowitz, the “Bear Jew“). Thick in unforgiving opinion, but steeped in source uber alles. More PBS than even MSNBC, as, for better or worse, it’s strictly not-for-profit.
I am one of two writers at the blog, along with a writer who goes by Johnny S. Doe. John is a former analyst for a non-partisan think tank, and now manages a team of U.S. Congressional staff chiefs, coordinating them under the wing of the same firm he was once with. As interesting as his position is, he doesn’t ever write about the inner-workings of what he does (as much as I would like it if he would. Since taking the position he’s currently in, his writing consists of editing my essays and adding / removing content.
But, it’s good. And, I also get to use it as an outlet to keep my artistic, as well as my journalistic swords sharp. I do all of the design, too. Then, there’s the Facebook Page, Magnana Mouse Citizen Media sister page on Facebook. If you’re on that social media black hole, please follow us there, too (LINK). And, of course, there’s Twitter (LINK). If you tweet, please follow us there!