Blotcher, who has been involved with gay and AIDS groups in the past, joined the newspaper as a stringer––a freelance reporter––in 2001 after he left New York City for the Hudson Valley. For much of his employment he contributed stories or reporting without ever getting a byline in the paper.
In late 2003, Blotcher published two stories and, under a new Times policy, his name appeared on those pieces. One story dealt with the trial of a woman who was accused of killing her three children. The second concerned some vandalism on a college campus.
“I never dealt with gay issues or AIDS issues,” Blotcher said.
Someone, an editor, another reporter, or a reader noted Blotcher’s name and recalled that he was once a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP.
“There was no complaint,” wrote Susan Edgerley, the Times metropolitan editor, in response to a Gay City News e-mail query. “We recognized the name from his work with ACT UP.”
That was it for Blotcher. On January 12, Lew Serviss, a Times editor, told him the paper would no longer use him in any section. When he appealed to Edgerley she responded, “I am setting the bar high to protect against any appearance of conflict of interest that might result through the hiring of stringers and leg-people. My motivation is expediency as well as ethics––we simply do not spend as much time checking into the backgrounds of independent contractors as we do of fulltime staff people.”
The Gay City News forgot to mention the many conflicts of star reporter Judith Miller, particularly her relationship to the Middle East Forum.
Call the New York Times and ask them why past membership in
...and, congratulations are in order for Blotcher on his recent marriage! Though, I'm sure that in the NYT's eyes such "activism" is enough to disqualify one from employment.