all the precedents mean?
Via Romenesko, Joe Strupp in E&P talking about the Watergate anniversary and how the scandal would have been reported today:
If Watergate had broken today, chances are someone would have posted a news story with inaccurate information too early, or the in-depth reporting needed might have been neglected in favor of quicker, more immediate, and more broad-interest scoops. That is not to say that the Post, still among the best daily papers and Web sites in the industry, would not have been on top of the story. But there is no doubt that online and immediacy demands of today could have impacted the careful, slow-building and meticulous coverage. …
Who knows, someone with a cell phone camera working in the parking garage might have snapped a photo of Woodward chatting with this unknown source. Or a blogger would have blown the whistle.
While it is important to remember the political tragedy and journalistic success that was Watergate, it is also sad to remember how much journalism has changed since then. Yes, the advent of online news and worldwide Web reach has helped newspapers, and most other media, tremendously by allowing daily papers to compete with other 24-hour news animals.
But it has also rushed much of the news process to the point where careful reviews and triple-checking of facts are often not done in time.
Yeah. Fine. We live in a rush-to-publish climate. Maybe so. But, hello? What about the UPDATE: posts regularly made to blogs and the lovely Corrections you can see on NYT articles online?
What about the fact that bloggers and the “ugosphere” of commenters and people who email bloggers keep stories alive that would otherwise just flash and fade?
Maybe Watergate’s 35th anniversary is a good time to wax nostalgic about real reporting. God knows there’s been less of it since then. But if MSM has gotten ADD, it’s not good enough just to fault RSS or the WWW. Because what Strupp tellingly terms “online” isn’t just a booster for quick-hit sensations, it’s also a platform for unrelenting, tenacious hyper-readers who got bit by the cyber-spider and can webcrawl for as long as it takes to capture a story and trap it on the web until the truth seeps out, long after the nightly news would have cut away to “these messages.”
Strupp’s comments overall are good reminders that in-depth reporting shouldn’t fall victim to the 24/7 news monster. But that technophobia just won’t go away. When he closes with a comment on “watchdog news” he should remember that the web let a whole new kennel of watchdogs loose, and their power to foment accountability is as real as the channel noise and credibility clutter of the Fox News, Wikipedia culture.