Solutions

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Over at Nieman Watchdog, Dan Froomkin summarizes a panel discussion of the media's failure to challenge the Bush administration's Iraq spin, including some suggestions for how to improve. Here's one of the best:

Acknowledge scoops by rival news organizations, then follow them up, like a relay team. "One of the things that I did in the book that I think maybe would be useful if people did more often just generally in daily reporting, was to give credit and follow up on other people's reporting," Mayer said, referring to "The Dark Side," her recent chronicle of the Bush administration's war on terror. "There is some kind of bias that editors have that if somebody else has broken a story, and you even acknowledge that they've broke the story… that you can't do your own version of it. And in fact, what it prohibits then, is following up and adding on…. It would have been better if the New York Times and Washington Post [had] said, 'What are these curveball stories?' and ran with it and took it further." Tom Rosensteil, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the panel's moderator, pointed out: "[T]hat's very much the model that scientists use in trying to investigate a problem, who do not work in large institutions but really sort of work as singular researchers in collaboration with each other."

It's been striking how much this hasn't happened over the past 8 years -- particularly to anyone who remembers how the Times and Post spent the Clinton era trying to one-up each other on the phony Whitewater story.

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