Pulitzer Winner Suspended For Web Pseudonym - InformationWeek

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5/1/2006
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Pulitzer Winner Suspended For Web Pseudonym

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times reportedly acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a comment on his own blog and several other blogs, saying it's common practice in the Web world.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is suspended and his newspaper column and blog were canned after he allegedly used pseudonyms to post online comments.

The L.A. Times published a statement over the weekend stating that Michael Hiltzik's Golden State column and blog were discontinued, that Hiltzik was suspended and that the business journalist would be reassigned upon his return.

According to an editors' note published Saturday in the newspaper, Hiltzik acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a comment on his own blog and several others on the Web.

"Hiltzik did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web," the statement read. "But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of The Times' ethics guidelines: Staff members must not misrepresent themselves and must not conceal their affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world."

In fact, comments on Hiltzik's own blog and other blogs, show the Web world took issue more with the fact that Hiltzik used the fake identities to promote himself and attack others.

Hiltzik has had ongoing arguments via the Internet with Los Angles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who writes his own blog. Just over a week ago, Frey wrote that he believed Hiltzik had used a pseudonym to comment several times on Frey's site, describing himself in positive terms using the third person. Frey said he also used the pseudonym to attack people.

In a lengthy blog entry, the prosecutor laid out his argument that Hiltzik, Mikekoshi and Nofanofcablecos were the same person. He presented the argument with screen snapshots and links as evidence that they not only visited the same sites, but also shared IP addresses.

Hiltzik responded to the post on his own blog stating that pseudonyms and anonymity are common in the blogosphere. That entry was dated April 20, the last day the L.A. Times' Golden State blog was updated. A woman answering a phone listed under the columnist's name said he was not home, and he did not respond to requests to return the call Monday.

He shared a 1999 Pulitzer Prize for exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. He has worked as a Times business reporter and columnist, as a foreign correspondent in Russia and Africa and as a technology and science writer and editor.

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