Category Archives: investigative journalism
In Wave, I see more than a new generation of email cum wikis cum Twitter cum groupware. Because it can feed blog and web pages and Twitter, I see a new way to create content, collaborative and live. I see a new way to make news.
Imagine a team of reporters – together with witnesses on the scene – able to contribute photos and news to the same Wave (formerly known as a story or a page). One can write up what is known; a witness can add facts from the scene and photos; an editor or reader can ask questions. And it is all contained under a single address – a permalink for the story – that is constantly updated from a collaborative team.
Jarvis’ point about the collaborative nature of future news is echoed by Paul Gillin, writing for Newspaper Death Watch:
Bit by prevaricated bit, reporters for McClatchy, Columbia Journalism Review and Slate pick apart former Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech before the American Enterprise Institute:
First up, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel’s piece for McClatchy, in which they remove the shaky supports from Cheney’s defense of U.S. interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists:
[Cheney] quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a “deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country.”
In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information “was valuable in some instances” but that “there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.” …
Cheney said that President Barack Obama’s decision to release the four top-secret Bush administration memos on the interrogation techniques was “flatly contrary” to U.S. national security, and would help al Qaida train terrorists in how to resist U.S. interrogations.
However, Blair, who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, said in his statement that he recommended the release of the memos, “strongly supported” Obama’s decision to prohibit using the controversial methods and that “we do not need these techniques to keep America safe.
Writing for Columbia Journalism Review, Charles Kaiser aims squarely at the contradictions between Cheney’s professed beliefs and his actions:
An awfully provocative comment about the news industry from Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, taken from this Q&A with Advertising Age:
People — particularly if they’re under 40 — have news priorities other than those of the editors of The New York Times or producers of the “NBC Nightly News.” A new tablet from Apple — or last night’s episode of “Gossip Girl” or the adventures of the hipster grifter — is a bigger deal than the latest petty scandal in Albany. You think that’s a damning indictment of modern society and a recipe for idiocracy? Fine. Start a nonprofit to cover all the local-government news you think a healthy society needs. But don’t expect advertisers — or commercially-minded publishers or readers, for that matter — to share your interests.
As if newspaper layoffs weren’t bad enough, someone had to go and present an essay titled “Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay.” Sheesh.
The provocative title isn’t one I would expect my journalistic brethren to embrace. Formal instruction has taught us that ours is a noble profession, one that provides an invaluable service by enabling an informed democracy. But as Robert G. Picard points out, that valuation no longer commands the tangible economic benefits it once did:
In the past, these journalistic benefits produced significant economic value, but today their value is diminishing rapidly. A significant reason for the reduction is value is that news and information producers and providers have less control over the communication space than ever before. In the past, limitations on distribution mechanisms and the cost structures of operating media promoted monopolies and oligopolies in communication supply. This increased the economic value of content by excluding provision by other suppliers.
Just a couple of the lessons to be learned from the two stories cited below: the loss of institutional credibility when journalists unquestioningly accept government statements as truth, and the speed with which half-truths, obfuscations and outright lies can spread throughout the mainstream media to become established “fact.”
First up, Timothy Noah reveals the logical fallacy of believing that the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed helped U.S. intelligence foil a plot to crash a plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles:
The CIA and Thiessen had argued that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, allowed the U.S. government to thwart the Library Tower attack, wherein al-Qaida planned to hijack a jetliner and fly it into the tallest building in Los Angeles (formally known these days as the U.S. Bank Tower). The trouble with this argument was that the chronology didn’t work. Sheikh Mohammed was captured in March 2003, and on more than one occasion (for instance, here, here, and here), the Bush administration stated that the Library Tower plot was broken up in 2002. How could torturing Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 have prevented an attack that had already been foiled a year earlier?
After my column appeared, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America noted (here, here, and here) that the following people continued to repeat the Library Tower canard without acknowledging its logical inconsistency: Karl Rove, Dana Rohrabacher, Clifford May, and Fox News’ Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Steve Doocy, Catherine Herridge, and Brian Kilmeade.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald provides a similarly withering criticism of the establishment media’s handling of the benefits of U.S.-sponsored torture. He takes ABC News‘ Brian Ross to task for reporting in 2007 that the waterboard torture of Abu Zubaydah lasted about “30 to 35 seconds” before he spilled his guts to the CIA about numerous terrorist plots:
The following hyperlocal media projects were selected as the New Voices grant winners for 2009:
GrossePointeToday.com — A collaborative effort between Wayne State University and University of Michigan-Dearborn to cover Detroit’s five Grosse Pointes.
Oakland Local — Covering multiple communities in Oakland, Calif., “with a focus on environment, climate, transportation, housing, local government and community activism.”
Backyard News — Four to six independently owned websites that will cover communities in Harrisburg, Pa.
Maryland School Information Mapping — A geomapping tool to complement public policy information from MarylandCommons.com.
Intersections: The South Los Angeles Reporting Project — Community news website.
The Austin Bulldog — for “public interest and investigative reporting” in Austin, Texas.
New Era Media — Colorado news site aimed at young people.
The Villager: News and Notes from Coconut Grove West — News site for the Miami community.
Track progress of each initiative at www.j-newvoices.org. According to the site:
New Voices is a pioneering program to seed innovative community news ventures in the United States. Through 2010, New Voices is helping to fund the start-up of 56 micro-local news projects. 2009 and 2010 grantees will receive $17,000 grants and have the opportunity for $8,000 in follow-up funding after one year. New Voices is administered by