Katie Couric's series of focus-group meetings with community groups across the country -- without the presence of the news media -- ran into a snag in Minneapolis Tuesday when a staffer for WCCO-TV attempted to disinvite Matt Bartel, who operates the local MNSpeak.com blog, then compromised by allowing him to surrender his pen. Bartel seemed unfazed by his treatment. ""I thought the event was worthwhile," he wrote on the blog Wednesday. "I wish the discussion had been open to more people and the media, but the people who were there were, for the most part, great." But the Associated Press quoted Jane Kirtley, a University of Minnesota ethics professor, as saying, "At a time when the news media is trying to gain the trust through transparency, to have a meeting closed to the media and the general public is unbelievable." Other critics of the CBS meetings offered sharper criticism, observing that television news executives and reporters should be in the business of interesting their audiences in significant news events, not merely catering to their existing interests.