ABA Dethrones Gonzales as Lawyer of the Year
As Emily Litella would have said, "Nevermind." The ABA Journal, after it was met with criticism for naming former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as 2007's lawyer of the year (See Dec. 13 Legal Blog Watch), took back his crown and redubbed him "newsmaker of the year." Here's the full statement from Journal Editor Edward Adams:
The ABA Journal posted an article titled 'Lawyers of the Year 2007 & 2008' on ABA Journal.com, on Dec. 12, 2007. The article defined that term as the year’s biggest legal newsmaker, identifying former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the major newsmaker of 2007. The Journal regrets that we did not make this theme clear.
We appreciate the feedback we’ve received, and we’re acting on it. So that there can be no confusion, the term 'Lawyers of the Year' has been changed in the headline and story to 'Newsmakers of the Year.' The story is otherwise unchanged from its original version.
This article, like all in the Journal, is the work of the magazine’s editorial staff. As is the magazine’s practice, it was not reviewed by the Journal’s volunteer Board of Editors, the ABA’s Board of Governors, or its officers, prior to publication. The Journal will continue to strive to provide high quality news to its readership.
Just as the original story drew critics, so has this latest development. It has been discussed by bloggers from Wonkette to Legal Profession Blog. Of the posts I've read about it, the one that best nails this down is Mark Obbie's at LawBeat, who says this was a matter of PR prevailing over journalism:
If the Journal weren't a house organ worried about the pressure on the ABA's august (read: stifling) leadership, would it have capitulated needlessly like this? I doubt it. That's the beauty of an independent magazine -- and the tragedy of one that is not. Just as the Journal tries to get a little zesty, it gets pulled back into the mire of Trying to Please Everyone and Not Make Waves.
The Journal's editors owed no apologies here or explanations beyond the content of its story. Time's Person of the Year has included such notorious picks as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Its editors never had to backpedal or soft pedal. If a magazine makes a mistake of fact, it should correct it. But when it makes an editorial judgment such as this, it should stand by it. One has to wonder whether this change came from the Journal's editors or, as Obbie suggests, from the association's higher-ups. Given the many positive changes at the Journal since Adams took over as editor and publisher last year, I suspect it was the latter.
Footnote: Law Blog is getting into the Lawyer of the Year act. Guess who's one of the nominees.
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 17, 2007 at 02:00 PM | Permalink
| Comments (0)