In today’s world, there are many types of journalists. Some, like me, are amateurs. Often referred to as “citizen-journalists”, we write because we love doing it. We don’t get paid, we typically have no formal journalism training, and we make rookie mistakes. In another category, despite the demise of the traditional news industry, there are professional journalists. They ply their craft to make a living, usually are graduates of respected journalism schools, and being human, they too often make mistakes. All journalists should be held to a high standard of ethics and integrity, and many citizen-journalists and most professional journalists write with those standards in mind.

Journalists for major news outlets can take advantage of a slew of resources – professional researchers, copy editors, established style guides, and thousands of contacts to make their products as polished and error-free as humanly possible. They can easily do fact-checking and most of the time their work is reviewed by several pairs of eyes before it is published.

As an amateur journalist, I don’t have the same resources at my disposal as does, for example, Paul Mulshine, who works for one of the largest and most comprehensive news outlets in the state of New Jersey. Mulshine must have a fantastic research staff. He recently commented on a blog post of mine, and immediately concluded that I had gone to public school. I commend his research staff in their ability to ferret out this fact, especially given that I write my blog under a pseudonym and it’s been a half century since I attended public school.

Mulshine intimated that because I went to public school, I must have had an inferior education. After all, in the blog post that he refers to, I misspelled the name of New Jersey Assemblyman Jack Conners, using an “o” instead of an “e” in the legislator’s name. Neither I nor my “copy editor” caught this error, but the blame for the mistake falls on my shoulders. I’m impressed that Mulshine’s research team got it right. I did go to public school. But I think I received a damn good education. I graduated from high school at age 17 and went on to earn an engineering degree from a public university – a wonderful institution in the Garden State called Rutgers. That education served me in good stead, and prepared me for a 40+ year career with a major defense contractor as well as enabling me to successfully complete the requirements for a post-graduate engineering degree (alas, at a private school in New York State.) For those not familiar with Paul Mulshine, he is a conservative commentator. I’m happy that he reads the liberal blogs that I write for. But I’m disappointed that he chose to publicly berate my education on what is a real, but trivial, error on my part. Last night, I had the occasion to meet the subject of my faux pas, Assemblyman Jack Conners. I related the story to the assemblyman about my spelling error and Mulshine’s comments. Ever gracious, Conners told me that his name has been the subject of misspellings for generations. He even mentioned that because their names are similar, he has often been confused with the other legislator from his district, Herb Conaway. I was glad to have had the chance to meet Conners, shook his hand, and wished him well in his planned retirement after the current Assembly session adjourns. Since I write from the left, and Mulshine writes from the right, we often have different views on the topic of the day. That’s great. I never expected my blog postings to be the subject of comments from a legitimate journalist, and I wish Mulshine would have chosen to comment on substance rather than typos. I have a very conservative friend who often comments on my blog under the name “Glen H.” Glen and I rarely agree on anything, but I enjoy the back-and-forth discussions we have, both on line and at a monthly current events forum that we both attend. The difference between Glen (who is not a professional journalist, either) and Paul, is that Glen’s comments have substance. They are often fact-based, and raise legitimate challenges to my opinions. This type of push-back from Glen is valuable. It makes me a better writer, causes me to re-think my position – sometimes requiring me to add nuance or modify my thinking – and less often than I would like, helps me and Glen find some common ground. The amateur, Glen, makes me a better writer. The professional, Paul, in his comments, epitomizes what’s wrong with mainstream journalism today.

Comments (8)

  1. toaonua

    Post anything critical of him or his “research” on any of his blogs and he will delete it. Go back and post a second time and he will delete you again and BLOCK you from comments. Small, closed minded person, he is.

  2. Alex

    While I suppose, technically, Mulshine might be a journalist, I can’t recall ever coming across anything he wrote that passed for serious, thoughtful and objective writing. I suppose he could be entertaining, particularly when he would argue in vain that Christie is not a real conservative (?), but I can’t say he ever struck me as anything other than a gadfly.

  3. jeffpickens

    You are way too generous calling Mulshine a journalist. And is hardly a shining example of editorial rigor. If you get up early enough in the morning you can catch all the mispellings and grammatical errors before the ever-vigilant NJ.commenters get to them.  

  4. Nowlan

    Paul is about to cross the line that separates curmudgeon from jerk.  Has he already?  Or am I being too lenient?  I am a public school teacher, you know.

    Nostalgia is a comfort to the middle-aged and aged, but it is not an argument.  

    (I say this as my cousin drags me off to the “Chiller Convention” in Parsippany.)  My last chance to meet Ernest Borgnine! And Hal Linden!  Ah we won’t soon see their like again.…  

  5. ken bank

    So how much does the Star-Ledger pay Mulslime to proofread progressive bloggers for their mistakes?

  6. ken bank

    Too bad Mulslime wasn’t around when his pal Quayle got caught misspelling “potato”.

  7. brendanod

    and find most of his topics to be relevant.  My biggest criticism would be that I find his political views irrational.  For a guy that writes about politics 90% of the time, one would think he could write about points of view that are politically feasible, but I guess that is his shtick.

    He has written about more moderate points of view, such as gas guzzling SUV’s.

    I have seen him criticize Bluejersey many times, and mostly for comments left on diaries, which I find hypocritical because obviously Bluejersey has no editorial control over comments, just as Mulshine has no control over comments on


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