Monday, April 26, 2010

I can't be the only person to have thought that Chris Rose couldn't have been the only reporter to have heard

In last week's Gambit, Chris Rose wrote:
Back in the days immediately following his election, with the city in the throes of optimism and anticipation, I recall a handful of folks buttonholing me to confide that the new mayor was not what he appeared to be to the masses.

  It was a small number of folks, whom I took to be bitter losers or disgruntled operatives for other candidates and other parties, who warned me that the new mayor had a dark streak that would one day show itself, to all of our surprise.

   Truthfully, I can't even recall exactly who it was that told me such things; I outrightly dismissed it — and them — as piffle. I didn't believe it. Not for a minute. Again, it simply didn't jibe with what I was seeing, hearing, reading and feeling.

Not to bash Chris Rose, but we do have to consider the fact that events and conversations can become confused, conflated and exaggerated in the memories of even the most scrupulously honest of people. It's also possible that Chris Rose was the only local journalist to have heard these mumblings, but click and scroll down to "Who Are You For?..."

Whatever the case might be, when I read that, I was reminded of a comment that I once made (not sure on whose blog) that New Orleans has some very good investigative reporters for a fairly small market, but its opinion makers (editors, op-ed writers, etc.) are all consensus historians who won't challenge the group consensus until investigative reporting or other events make the group consensus untenable.

I suppose that's pretty much the case nationwide:
Meanwhile, there’s also a mini-struggle going on within business journalism itself over how best to cover the crisis. Sorkin’s book helps draw a bright line between deal journalism and the work of accountability-oriented reporters. In the former, the reporter-source relationship is more transactional, with a focus on securing insider access; the latter maintain greater distance from their subjects and rely for their material on financial filings, lawsuits, whistleblowers, short sellers, nonprofit groups, and dissidents of all stripes—not insiders, but outsiders. As it happens, their sources were right about this crisis, while Sorkin’s insiders were part of the problem.

While Pittman’s adversarial style paid major dividends, it should be obvious that his approach would not gain him the kind of telepathic rapport that Sorkin seems to have developed with the Fed chairman (“. . . the towering white peaks of the Tetons offered a majestic view, but one that no longer took Ben Bernanke’s breath away the way it once had.”)

Readers should be aware of the differences in reporting styles and understand them for what they are: a division of labor. Neither will give you the full picture; one aims to tell you what the players said, while the other tells you what they did.

I don't think that the conflict between access journalism and investigative reporting is limited to business reporting. I should probably do a post rehashing all the reasons why I hated Nagin by the end of 2005, before writing much more about Nagin and the local press, but I will point out that the very "even-handed"* article about Nagin in yesterday's Picayune was co-written by a former very good investigative reporter turned city editor. The article failed to mention the depletion of the $200M revolver fund but did state that "the financial outlook is brighter, too." That will be a pleasant surprise for the incoming mayor:
“I will inherit a city that is in financial trouble,” Landrieu said. “… I think the public is going to be shocked to know the financial situation the city is in.”

I'll end with two questions. First, if the local press pulls its punches to help along the healing process or something, is that really just responsible reporting, or is it advocacy journalism?

Secondly, if Landrieu's inheriting a f***ed up situation, why would anybody want to sugar coat that?

*The article was much nicer to Nagin than the headline. I haven't looked at the letters page in today's paper, but I'd wager that any complaints that the article was unfair to Nagin focus on the headline.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oddly appropriate fashion accessory

Seeing Dick Armey dressed up like a cowboy today, I was reminded that very briefly, almost thirty years ago, I actually liked George Will:
Compared to some cowboys -- symbols of rugged individualism: hairy chested, leathery skinned, crow's feet around the eyes -- who use heavily subsidized water, graze their cattle on public land for a pittance, and have their market protected by beef import quotas -- compared to such Marlboro men, the average inner-city welfare mother is the soul of self-reliance
Admittedly, George Will wrote that column twenty-nine years ago; much has changed since then.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April Fools' Day at CNBC

This skit should be an instant classic. First you have Trish Regan wondering why, oh why, do politicians continue to demonize banks? Then, some Republican guy says that Jamie Dimon and his Wall Street buddies should have known better than to trust a socialist Obama administration...before he says that Wall Street owns the government. Unfortunately, Larry Kudlow couldn't quite keep a straight face throughout the bit.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Old Favorites
  • Political Boxing (untitled)
  • Did Bush Take His Ball and Go Home
  • Teratogens and Plan B
  • Foghorn Leghorn Republicans
  • Quote of the Day
  • October's News(Dec.1)
  • untitled, Nov.19 (offshore revenue)
  • Remember Upton Sinclair
  • Oct. Liar of thr month
  • Jindal's True Colors
  • No bid contracts