Scalp Collecting

I wrote this yesterday about the labeling of what bloggers have done to corrupt, criminal, stupid or just plain politically naive people in recent days “scalp collecting:”

The Boston Globe busted the extra ball and brought down a Cardinal who enabled child molesters. Was that “scalp collecting?” The Washington Post busted the extra ball and brought down a corrupt president’s entire administration. Was that “scalp collecting?” It wasn’t? Why not? Why are we now pissed off at bloggers for doing what, if t’were done by a TV station during sweeps, would be rewarded with an Emmy?


I hope the reporters who are feigning shock will think about their affronted virgin eyes and ears the next time they force a mayor or councilman out of office for getting traffic tickets dismissed for his mistress. I hope they’ll wonder long and hard whether they should be “scalp collecting” like that. And then I hope they get over it, and go back to doing their fucking jobs.

I was pissed, and I still am. The government watchdog function of journalism is one of the most important obligations of the trade, and it’s one good journalists take pride in.

What John Aravosis did with this story is no different, in any way, from what a journalist paid by a newspaper or TV station would do. He received a tip. He followed up with the source of that tip. He researched, he asked questions, he contacted the subject of his investigation to give him a chance to comment, and then he published the results. I’d appreciate it if some reporters in my audience here could tell me what they’d have done that he didn’t do. He behaved like a journalist, like the best of our journalists should.

So here’s what I’d like to do, with the help of all my fine First Drafters: I’d like you to find, in your local papers, TV stations (it’s February sweeps, you shouldn’t have to look too hard), magazines, web sites, etc, examples of reporting that not only exposed a corrupt practice but forced a resignation because of said practice.

Either post them to this thread or e-mail them to me at athenae25 at, or send them to the general blog address. I’ll post the good ones on the main page.

I’m doing this because it enrages me that good journalism, good reporting, solid fact-based exposing of a wrong done to our society, is now being classified as “scalp collecting.” It not only demeans bloggers, it demeans journalists as well.

I’ll start us off with a good example from my own hometown: The Chicago Sun-Times’ Hired Truck Scandal. City hired trucking firms to do nothing. Sun-Times reporters busted it out, indictments resulted, the manager of the program resigned, and Mayor Daley announced last week he was scrapping the whole thing.

Damn fine scalp-collecting, if you ask me.