February 14, 2005
Closing Thoughts on the Resignation of Eason Jordan
"Bloggers, journalists, news executives and everyone else: For any of this--blogging, journalism, citizens media, a free press, transparency--to work, the solution when you mis-communicate has to be more communication, not ex-communication."
I don’t think he should have resigned. I don’t know why he did. Neither the public overlooking this sad event, nor the participants in it know why Eason Jordan quit. No reasons have been given, beyond saving CNN the trouble of a controversy.
That’s not a reason. If CNN is a real news network, why shouldn’t it have the trouble of a controversy now and then? I think anyone interested in serious journalism would agree that what are called news values come out during times when the network is criticized, called to defend itself, attacked by political interests, or otherwise under pressure. No executive can succeed in news who is not nimble in public controversy. Eason Jordan knows that. And yet:
I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq.
“Prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished…” I’m sorry. The phrase is meaningless to me. The act stands unexplained. The New York Times account from today is light on cause-and-effect too: “Eason Jordan, the chief news executive at CNN, abruptly resigned after being besieged by the online community.” After, yes, but because of?
To me, a resignation or firing is totally out of proportion to any offense given in Davos (that I know of.) And in that sense it seems like an overly drastic measure Jordan took. But even more than that; it is an outcome unjust on its face, based on what I know. I am aware that many in the blogging fraternity dispute that.
So be it. I agree with the Wall Street Journal in an editorial today: “The worst that can reasonably be said about his performance is that he made an indefensible remark from which he ineptly tried to climb down at first prompting. This may have been dumb but it wasn’t a journalistic felony.”
Not a felony. I say not a crime. But here is what it was: An occasion when a news executive, a senior statesman at the network, miscommunicated about a matter of life and death, not to say a “story” of considerable (to the point of shocking) news value. And not in front of just anyone, but “representatives of the world,” an international elite, which is part of the ruling fiction at Davos.
Bloggers, journalists, news executives and everyone else: For any of this—blogging, journalism, citizens media, a free press, transparency—to work, the solution when you mis-communicate has to be more communication, not ex-communication. (And non-communication, as with spin, only makes things worse.) Our motto ought to be: “read the rest,” not “you’ll pay for this.”
I say again: The solution to miscommunication has to be more communication. But that is not the route CNN and Jordan chose. Bad move. Grant some interviews, and make some of them with bloggers. Instead of making no statements, consider making lots of statements. I’ll give you an academic word for it: when in trouble, go dialogic.
But even if you don’t open the gates and communicate more, as prudence would recommend, you shouldn’t lose your job for whatever it was you and someone else said during a heated discussion about the media and the military in Davos.
That is a bad and a troubling outcome for journalism, for CNN, for free speech, for Davos, for blogging, and for uncoerced thought. (And it’s an outcome still unexplained, reporters on the media beat.) I am with Bertrand Pecquerie of EditorsWeblog when he says: “Indeed the Eason Jordan case is much more than the question of a videotape! It’s about freedom of expression and the right to raise disturbing questions.”
But then I don’t know why Jordan quit. (Neither do you, unless someone does some more journalism.) And I don’t know what was said at the Forum, really. It’s not in the public record.
However I do understand the atmosphere at Davos since I was at last year’s World Economic Forum (Jan. 2004), and joined in the proceedings, as a speaker and audience member. I also wrote about it at PressThink. To me speaking there is in every meaningful sense a public occasion; and I would never think for a moment that with a microphone on I was truly “off” the record. See this photo, which shows what I mean. Or read Davos Newbies on the same point.
The Forum had its own idea: if people knew they weren’t going to be quoted in the press or “held” to positions stated for purposes of discussion, they might be more open. If as a consequence of trying to be more open Jordan said something he would not have said if he were trying merely to give no offense, then this is part of what I mean by an unjust and troubling outcome.
But the rules of Davos helped lead to that place. They are dangerously out of date, especially when combined with uncoerced blogging and the powers of the World Wide Web. “You have to ask, whose idea was it to introduce a weblog?” wrote Rebecca Blood today. “Off-the-record debate mixed with off-the-cuff publication is a recipe for disaster.” Precisely. Let’s see why:
In a Feb. 13 e-mail to bloggers who had asked about the tape, Mark Adams, Head of Media for the World Economic Forum, said, “All participants take part in those sessions on the understanding that their comments are ‘non-attributable.’” Got that? It means you can’t attach what Smith said to Smith.
On Feb. 7th, Mark Adams told blogger Tim Schmoyer that the discussion was held under the Chatham House Rule. It says: “Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” No affiliations. The means you can’t say, “a BBC official on the panel claimed…”
Those were the rules, says the WEF. But the original report from the panel discussion in Davos—which did attribute comments to participants, identifying Jordan and others—appeared on a Forum sanctioned site, the exact title of which is: “Forumblog.org - The World Economic Forum Weblog.” It was a place where participants in the meeting could post reports and reflections. Rony Abovitz did that:
During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted.
We could say, “that’s one of the dangers of having amateurs who think they’re journalists, they get the rules wrong,” but for two things. First, the Wall Street Journal, in its Political Diary newsletter, got the rules even more wrong. Bret Stephens of the Journal’s editorial page quoted people at the meeting; Rony Abovitz of Forumblog did not. This went unmentioned in today’s piece from the Journal Editorial Page, which was partly about being a grown-up. (They’re not that grown up, I guess. But see this.)
Second, Rony Abovitz was obeying rules: the “rules” of blogging, which I put in quotes not because there are none, but because they aren’t codified. Someone says something interesting and newsworthy—juicy, debatable—and you are there, a participant in the event. If you have a blog, you post about it. “You can’t believe what happened, here’s what I think.”
Say your post catches fire, meaning: other people talk about it. If you’re a blogger, you keep blogging about the thing they’re talking about. In such a manner blog “storms” can happen. They can also happen because people will them to happen for political reasons, or react opportunistically to events in hopes of gaining from the whirlwind that follows.
Overlooking the larger scene, Michael Barone of US News writes: “The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.”
Barone, a friend to blogosphere right, is correct— and he’s being candid. The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is the Mainstream Media. (For the Left it’s Bush, he says.) I want to know what the right says back. Not to me, although that’s fine too, but specifically to Michael Barone.
In an effort to go dialogic, I asked Will Collier of Vodka Pundit (who got into it with Steve Lovelady of CJR Daily) a question that I hope is both pointed and open ended: Is the point to have a dialogue with the MSM or help cause its destruction? (Or is there a third and fourth alternative we should be discussing?) This is something the blogging world should take a moment for and reflect upon.
Collier said he is thinking about it, and writing a reply that (he tells me) will be out in a day or so. Excellent news, that. I can’t wait to read what he says.
UPDATE, Feb. 16: read what he says. “MSM, Heal Thyself.”
What I’m interested in is not destruction, but rather disclosure, transparency, reform. You can boil all of the above down to one term that ought to be the watchword for everybody in all of journalism’s myriad forms: honesty. I don’t mind a biased press (more on this later), but I do mind a dishonest press.
See Lovelady’s reply at Vodka Pundit. Plus: CNN reports on PressThink’s exchange with Collier.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…
Here’s the transcript of the PBS Newshour from tonight (Feb. 14) with me, Jim Geraghty of National Review Online and David Gergen of Harvard’s Kennedy School and several White Houses. Host is Terence Smith.
The Newshour gig—my first time on that show—went well, but it was not as inspired as this rant from Chicago Tribune senior correspondent Charlie Madigan:
Shut up with your whining and appreciate the fact that after generations of stagnation, something new has arrived. And like all new things, it’s going to take awhile for it to work itself out.
Conventional journalism seems aghast that a whole collection of independent voices from all sides of the political spectrum are popping up now to pick and smear and slander and point accusing fingers, wreck careers, cast aspersions and introduce something besides a century-old sense of entitled hierarchy to the formula for news presentation.
The title: Bloggers from hell —or heavensent?
Striking a different note is Corey Pein, at Romenesko’s Letters (2/14/2005 12:59:27 PM).
Arguing that we need to pay more attention to certain blogs and get on top of non-scandals like “Easongate” is a weasely way of saying that journalists should pander to reactionary sentiment. But more time spent in front of computers will not save journalism. Nor will looking to Fox News as a model of integrity and audience relations. What journalists do need to understand is why so many people prefer Pravda.
Captains Quarters: “I’m not a newspaper.”
(That’s style of blogging I learned from Scripting News.)
Mike Moran at MSNBC’s Hardblogger: “Was it wise for CNN to provide the enemies of free expression, critical thinking and The First Amendment with a victory on this count? Are they so lost as a network that they abandon basic principles? Is the main stream really now just a trickling tributary that can be diverted with just a few well thrown stones?”
Scott Rosenberg on Eason Jordan: “His story is now a routine one — that of the media pro who does not realize that the world has changed around him, that there is a new activist sphere of journalistic review and criticism happening collectively in real time, and that no gaffe, error or deception is likely to remain hidden. Until media people fully and deeply learn that they are responsible for their words and their work, and that this scrutiny is a good thing for their profession, careers will continue to fall casualty.”
“Transparency requires forgiveness.” David Weinberger.
Jack Shafer: “I Would Have Fired Eason Jordan.”
Dan Gillmor: “Thin Skins in the Blog World, Too.”
“And about Eason Jordan: More myopic blogger triumphalism.” Anil Dash talks to political bloggers:
This is inside-baseball cliquishness at its worst. I’m not saying these guys didn’t screw up, I’m saying that you didn’t win. It won’t temper we liberals who control the media to be more moderate, and it won’t keep the White House from trying to spin the media. Net effect? Lots of negatives, few positives. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re hurting us. You’re hurting all weblogs.
Rony Albovitz: “I am unnerved by what has happened, at the ferocity of the blog swarm, of Eason’s fumbled retreats, evasive maneuvers, and an inexplicable refusal to have his own words played back to the world on a videotape (which does exist). The head of the largest news organization in the world, afraid of himself.”
The Guardian weighs in: “Jordan’s demise may be much more significant than it first appears.”
The Guardian piece has Steve Lovelady’s remarks about “salivating morons” originating in what he told the New York Times, but of course the Times got them from PressThink, a blog that it failed to name. It’s happened before: the Times will say “online” rather than “PressThink,” as it did Feb. 14: “The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail,” he lamented online after Mr. Jordan’s resignation. (Another example.) Next time I quote the New York Times I think I will do it this way: “As Paul Krugman said in newsprint last week…”
Steve Lovelady at CJR Daily: “The Captain Eds, Jay Rosens and Jeff Jarvises of this world have always celebrated the blogosphere as a self-correcting perfect democracy where the participants supply accountability and oversight. The other side of that coin is to say that the mob is headless, and that neither the best efforts of the deacons, nor those of anyone else, can mediate the wrath when the headhunters smell blood.”
Perfect democracy? When did I say anything like that? Sheesh.
(Jeff Jarvis replies to Lovelady: The Mob Times.)
Howard Kurtz in his Tuesday (Feb. 15) Media Notes: “I lean toward the view that the rise of blogs is a healthy development and is forcing the MSM [to] become more accountable, rather than display their old we-stand-by-our-story arrogance. There is, to be sure, plenty of partisan noise and mean-spirited attacks out there, but also a lot of thoughtful and ground-breaking posting on stories, or angles, either missed or minimized by the MSM types… The power of the blogosphere, I’d suggest, is not in raw numbers but in ideas that garner attention. And now, for the first time since Gutenberg, you don’t need access to a printing press (or radio mike or TV tower) to reach an audience.”
James Lileks: “I think the Eason Jordon case is less important than the Dan Rather case, for obvious reasons. But it seems to have produced the same amount of enthusiasm. At some point this amount of glee is going to be applied towards someone who might actually turn out to be innocent. What then? Well, it’ll kill the credibilty of those who led the charge, and help the reps of those who turn it away. It’ll be a big self-correcting moment, but the self-correcting won’t be the story; the story will be the mistake.”
The BBC’s Kevin Anderson, American media vs the blogs: “One thing both bloggers and some journalists can agree on is that business as usual is over in the American media.”
CNN finally covers the Jordan story (“Inside Politics” transcript.)
Jeff Jarvis writes a letter to the editor:
Mr. Keller: I propose that we hold a one-day meeting of webloggers and Times editors and reporters to discover how the interests of both groups are aligned and how we can work together to improve news.
“Dear Jeff: It’s hopless,” says Dave Winer. “Just remember when Times reporters say they’re superior, objective, and independent, that they actually write about blogs like French monarchs, with an axe to grind, and a huge undisclosed conflict of interest. We don’t need these guys anymore, and the smart ones are getting a clue about that. That’s certainly what I saw in North Carolina. My guess is that the news will take a bit longer to reach NYC. They ought to be helping us expose their incompetence, much the way a good software vendor seeks out bug reports.”
Michael at Reading A1 called me an “enabler” of the Hugh Hewitt agenda last week because I gave attention to the Eason Jordan episode. This week: “Not so much an enabler, perhaps, more like a fellow traveller.”
Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind. It’s not conservative to destroy what you cannot replace:
Those webloggers seeking another MSM head have yet to offer a replacement to mainstream media. They destroy but don’t build. That’s not conservative. Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France writes about tearing down the state:
“[W]e have consecrated the state, that no man should approach to look into its defects or corruptions but with due caution; that he should never dream of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he should approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude.”
Replace “state” with “media” and you’ll see Burke’s wisdom still applies today.
Michael Wolff in a speech to media executives: “At some point in the ’50s Truman Capote was asked about Jack Kerouac, and he said, ‘That’s not writing, that’s typing,’ which is to some degree how I feel about blogs. I even hate saying the word blog. I hate being forced to say the word blog. When I look at that particular blog piece of software I react viscerally. I said, ‘Oh, I don’t want this. I don’t want to be part of this.’… By all rights, 18 months from now we should be looking back at this and all kind of embarrassed to say the word blog — I hope.”
Posted by Jay Rosen at February 14, 2005 5:27 PM
The Barone quote itself is disingenuous. It contradicts itself.
"Michael Barone of US News writes: 'The focus of hatred in the right blogosphere is not Kerry or the Democrats but what these bloggers call Mainstream Media, or MSM. They argue, correctly in my view, that the New York Times, CBS News, and others distorted the news in an attempt to defeat Bush in 2004.'"
The right wing blogosphere openly hates the so-called mainstream media (who have been jumping to the defense of payola journalist Jeff "Gannon" Guckert), but Barone claims no personal animosity for Kerry or Democrats.
If the imaginary media support for Kerry is why regressive Republicans hate the media, than this hatred of the media is by Barone's own logic fueled by hatred for Democrats. Indeed, journalists are hated AS democrats.
That is the standard charge, 80% of them are Democrats, so journalists' claims to objectivity are a sham.
Well, Barone's claim that he and his storm troopers don't hate Democrats, just the media, is a sham. They are telling us loud and clear, they don't hate the media as opposed to Democrats, they hate the media AS a collection of the Democrats they hate. This means that hating the media for the reasons Barone gives is itself an act of hating Democrats. While denying it.
It is a tall order to imagine attempting communication with the hypocrisy of regressive Republican hatred of this kind. It is unembarassed in its hatred. It is unapologetic. It is periodically hypocritical, but it is nothing if not full-throated.
There is a dKos diary today that performs the thought experiment of putting the routine libel and slander coming from Limbaugh, O'Reilly and company into the mouths of Democrats with Republican targets. It is stunning, the routine disrespect and contempt (for human dignity and the truth) that is produced by this crew.
"I've got something to say.
What we need are Democratic strongmen who will walk up to those conservatives in favor of the war and punch them in the face.
We need Janet Reno to find these hawks, have ATF agents with automatic weapons arrest them, and place them in an offshore prison where we can hold them without charges and declare them enemy combatants.
Maybe this is all too elaborate. Perhaps we should just drop bombs on their homes.
We do this because they are enraged at the prospect of being tolerant."
Guess what? This ventriloquism of the regressive right echo chamber makes Eason Jordan sound like Step n' Fetch It. Compared to this crew, he should be considered as a mediator.
It would take a less rabid and regressive right for communication to occur. The current regressive right's model of communication is enforced daily in the Congress: Agree with us or shut up. That's not a very promising place for communication to occur.
My point is, whether right-bloggers agree with Barone or not, if the statement is self-contradictory and false to begin with, what have we learned?
Yes, they agree with the hypocrisy or no they refuse to be hypocritical in that way. It seems to leave us with no more than a test of regressive rightist sincerity or lack thereof.
In other words, what we are really asking is: "Do you really hate us? Or do you just pretend to hate us?" Is communication really the first order of business in addressing hatred, whether real or feigned?
Mark Anderson insists that the blogswarm about Jordan is a manifestation of right wing hatred.
There certainly is a bunch of that out there. I generally find Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to be destructive and yes, sometimes hateful.
And I warned the blogosphere, over at Winds of Change, against being manipulated for political aims. I said things like "mob action is a lousy way to run a society".
But you know what, Mark? I've been a registered Democrat for over 30 years now and I have a lot of sympathy for bloggers who went after Jordan and CNN. The gap between what I saw *reported* by a variety of people on the ground in Iraq and what I saw *reported* by the mainstream media was persistent and too large to ignore. I don't have a huge number of personal friends who've been in Iraq the last 2 years, but the half-dozen I've talked with in depth brought back reports, photos and analyses that make the press reports look like amateur hour. And unfortunately, where the press fell down, it did so in a pretty consistently anti-Coalition direction. That's damning in the eyes of many intelligent, thoughtful people.
I also have a lot of sympathy for journalists. Their industry is being fundamentally restructured out from underneath them, and not just by the Net. Long before the first blogger, consolidation of media ownership meant less money for foreign bureaus, less time to dig for facts, more emphasis on short-term ratings -- in other words, a lot of pressures that lead to many of the errors bloggers jump on.
It doesn't help that Watergate and Vietnam *did* lead to a totally unwarranted arrogance on the part of journalists and a huge increase in gotcha journalism. Watergate was unfortunate, because it caused many in the field to overestimate their own importance, just at the time when forces were building that would have challenged them even if they were on firmer ground.
So here we are in a perfect storm of changes and Jordan and Rather are just the surface symptoms. What *IS* the role of professional journalists when they work for an international organization and don't necessarily perceive themselve to have any allegiance or direct responsibility to a particular electorate? And what *IS* the responsibility of bloggers? We'd better find out soon, because bloggers are venturing into uncharted waters and journalists are increasingly under fire, literally and figuratively.
There are bloggers who want constructive dialogue with journalists on these issues. I'm one of them. But that has to go both ways -- if journalists try to dismiss the events of the last 3 weeks as the work of right-wing hatred, they are missing a dwindling window of opportunity to regain credibility with an articulate, educated and increasingly active audience. Industries and organizations that ignore their markets usually lose them. And protected groups that abuse their protections may find themselves increasingly stripped of them.
Why should journalists maintain a monopoly on information flows in their business when nearly every other profession is losing or has lost its own informational monopoly
They shouldn't -- and more to the point, they can't.
That said, I do think we need to consider carefully the impact of information on our democracy. If professional journalists are no long the Fourth Estate of society/government - or if they are no longer alone in that role - what should we do about the legal privileges and protections we extend to them? I'm unwilling to discard those lightly and it's not clear to me that they should be extended easily to bloggers - at least not to bloggers as a group under all circumstances. And yet, as Jordan's interview last Fall notes, CNNi is not an American company. Expecting him and his company to have loyalty to the American electorate is probably a futile effort -- and that means that we can hold him only to the barest standard of factuality in his comments. Anything beyond that is likely to depend to a good degree on values and those tend to differ from culture to culture.
In other words, assuming Jordan said what people believe he said (and that he meant it, per his comments in Portugal), we shouldn't be surprised. The question is, what are the legal and other implications of delinking the press from a specific country and culture?
There will come a time when the reader/news consumer, not the blogger or the editor, is the one who selects, arranges and shapes news reportage.
Maybe. But there's a whole lot of data out there to sift through. We're not yet at the point where, say, your personal software agent can sift through thousands of direct information feeds for you, sum up the important trends and present it with analysis. Believe me -- my academic research is in these areas and it will be a while. A long while, probably.
But even if your own personal adaptive software agent could do that for you, it's not likely to go out investigating possible news in the real world. At least, the robotics I'm familiar with are a long way from doing that any time soon. (smile)
Do bloggers or other readers/consumers have useful inputs that might bring insights to other readers? Sure, as we've seen with the Iraqi bloggers. How, or if, that can play with professional journalists remains to be seen. We're all shaping one another in ways we don't fully understand and which have just begun to play out, I suspect.
Another point to be made is that there are currently 140,000+ American soldiers in Iraq, fighting for their lives and the success of their mission. Eason Jordan's comments could *possibly* be ignored if it weren't for this singular fact. By playing to the predisposed bias of many other participants at Davos, Eason Jordan's words could have been used as ammunition against American forces. This is beyond the pale in every way and at this point, firing is too damn good for the man.
You're right that our presence in Iraq is the important context for Jordan's remarks. It's not clear to me, however, that Jordan identifies with the American public on this issue, however, or that he would mind the impact of those remarks on US troops.
Instead, I think (based on his own words) that he identified with his company as an international player. Jordan himself was a college drop-out whose only media employment, so far as I can tell, was at CNN beginning in its early days. He was promoted quickly because he focused on first the technical and then the operational details of getting reporters out in the field and then streaming in their reports from the field.
While there are many fine journalists who have received a solid training on the job (as opposed to J-school), it's not at all clear to me that CNN in its early days was an established shop which could pass on the ethics, skills and mindset of responsible journalism. Jordan's professional career was shaped early on by CNN's dominant voice in Baghdad during the first Gulf war.
Is it surprising, then, that he identifies most with his journalists - a concern he should have, in his role - and with his growing international audience, first and foremost?
It's pretty common in the business world, where I spent over 25+ years before moving to academia, to have executives who had risen to roles that demanded broader skills and mindset than they really had. Executives who are promoted too far this way usually over-reach, often are blatant about their use of money and power and are often pushed out by Boards as a result.
I suspect that Jordan had become a liability for Time Warner for a while, but this was the firing offense. I've read accounts that he had given up most operational management of the news for CNNi and was mostly "doing deals" for access and partnerships, although I don't have details and that might not be true.
What interests me more than Jordan himself is the broader issue of a group of academics, press and others who identify with trans-national groups first and foremost. I suspect that describes many in the broadcast industry and at major newspapers, as well as many academics.
I won't debate whether they are right or wrong on that (at least not here). But I will raise the question of what that implies for this country's treatment of the press.
And I think it has direct impact on journalism on the battlefield - how it is done and what the results are in terms of journalist deaths. When wars are fought on a non-linear battlefield, as in Iraq, there are no clear "front lines" and "behind the lines" demarcations. That is why the US military wants to embed reporters - apart from any intention on the part of the politicians to control viewpoint, the reality is that that is the only way the military can protect journalists.
There have been reports of attacks on troops by insurgents driving cars with press markings, for instance. There have been videotapes of insurgent attacks on troops by correspondents who appear to have been rather closely embedded with the insurgents. In these circumstances, what is the right balance between protecting troop lives and those of journalists who are perceived, in some cases correctly I think, as being hostile to the troops and their mission?
Not easy questions to answer, but I think Jordan and others need to be careful in pushing the issue of journalist deaths because they will find that many do not agree with their unstated premise about whose lives should come first in these situations. I myself think that most troops try to protect journalists and many journalists are responsible and prudent. Beyond that, it's a murky grey area.
Interesting post, though a little late in the game...
This "gee whiz, why'd he go and quit when it was just getting interesting" (largely faux) expression of concern is nice, but late, and missing the point. You put together an internet lynch mob and then when the body is swinging you go "oops, we just meant to ask him questions" - nice try, but no, you didn't.
It's rewriting much of what happened over the past few weeks to say that the blood in the water wasn't visible in this mess. If this "controversy" wasn't meant to bring down Jordan, that certainly eluded many people watching it, me included.
Look, the worst and most damning assessment to be made (which the WSJ underlined in that pretty brilliant editorial) about the "Jordan at Davos" brouhaha is that it wasn't news. It may say something about the dissonance between "mainstream media" and "the blogosphere" that there was tension over that assessment, but it's also possible, despite the mewlings of Jarvis et al, that the MSM were right - there just wasn't much of a story in some tossed off remarks that weren't thought through and misstated a (possibly useful) point badly.
I like blogs - and I get some news and information from blogs, mostly those that compile news reports by other, legitimate newsgathering organizations. I like Jay, I like reading this blog on journalism's changes, but conflating what blogs do with what journalism does is turning out to be stupid, and dangerous. This time it's just the high paying job of a (generally referred to as) nice man who probably didn't deserve to what he got. What's next? Who's developeing a taste for this? And who thinks anything, really, will put them off from the next spectacular "gotcha" moment?
There is such a thing as too much information, and there is a time when communication in and of itself is not the answer. And maybe what I'd posit is this - the blogosphere needs editors - the traffic cops of language and content who do the hard work of codifying things, saying enough is enough, or that's interesting and needs more exploration. Blogs, maybe, are reportage unmoored from the editing function, showing both virtues (in new, additional information) and flaws (in unsubtantiated gossip, innuendo, and overkill). I'd say the flaws are starting to overrun the good. And there's no sign that anyone knows how to rein the bad stuff in. That can't be a good thing long term.
"Is the point to have a dialogue with the MSM or help cause its destruction? (Or is there a third and fourth alternative we should be discussing?)"
I will go with "alternative three", Mr. Rosen.
I do not blog to have a dialog with the MSM. For the vast majority of bloggers, it would be a fruitless exercise to want to have a dialog with the MSM. There are way too many bloggers for the MSM to dialog with. The MSM is going to never hear what the vast majority of us have to say.
I also do not blog to bring about the destruction of the MSM. I rely on the media every day. I am unhappy with certain aspects of it, and would love to pressure the MSM to reform these aspects. However, just because I would like to see that happen does not mean that is why I blog. I wanted to do that before blogs existed. I wanted to do that after blogs existed but before I started to blog. It is a desire, but not a desire that drives me to blog.
I blog for three reasons. The first is primal. I blog because I enjoy expressing my opinions, debating them, and occasionally having them recognized by some others.
The second is intellectual. I blog because in doing so I learn and I hopefully help others learn. I do the latter by bringing up something someone who reads my site might not know. I do the former by doing research for my posts, and by engaging in the debates in the comments. There are plenty of smart people out there who can, and do, teach me things as a direct result of posts I have made.
I think those two reasons are general for a lot of bloggers besides me. The third reason is more specific to me. I have a certain skill regarding polling analysis and political race analysis that I would like to somehow turn into something more than just a hobby. I watch Larry Sabato and Charlie Cook and similar others ply their craft and know that not only can I do that, I can do it oftentimes better. Blogging has let me get my foot in the door in this regards. It provided a forum for me to prove my skills.
I think that those who blog looking for a dialog with the MSM, or hoping for the destruction of the MSM, are few and far between.
Yes, the cure for miscommunication is more communication if that additonal communication is expositive.
But, please, given Jordan's experience as journalist, it simply does not wash that he miscommunicated at Davos. That he did not attempt to respin what he said until he was challenged indicates that he meant what he said initially.
Jordan's journalistic felony is that he made an unsubstantiated statement which he floated in front of an international gathering--for what purpose of what discussion, other than advancing his bias and fantasy, or embarrassing the U.S. and endangering it's troops in Iraq?--and then fell quickly on his sword to avoid having to face the music of further public discussion.
He and CNN behave like cowards in that they short-circuited any further discussion, rather than taking a stand. He and they are afraid of what he said being aired? At least he and they should have the collective testicularity to take responsibility for that.
So if what he did was not worthy of firing or resignation, then (a) why did he tender his resignation, and (b) why did CNN accept it? Don't most people, at least adults, understand what "resigning for the good of the service" means? It would appear that he and CNN do.
Did free speech suffer? I don't think so. It's one thing to stand at dais and say what he did, as the executive of a broadcast network, versus mentioning this while at a table or cocktail gathering of the attendees.
If, however, he were speaking as a private individual, then, yes, free speech did suffer.
Still, in all the millions of keystrokes committed to this, has anyone suggested what his motive might be for having said what he did, when and where he did?
But, please, given Jordan's experience as journalist, it simply does not wash that he miscommunicated at Davos.
translation (offered by p.lukasiak) : Jordan was guilty of ThoughtCrimes.
If he'd kept his thoughts in his mind, there would be no issue. It's when he opened up his ego spout and tried to curry favor with the anti-Americans and others of his ilk by his calumny at Davos that he put himself in an untenable position.
And nobody's shut down Jordan's right to speak. He chose to say what he did. It appears he also chose, along with CNN, to accept the responsibility for his remarks. He's also chosen to be silent for days now, too. Nothing has been forced on him; he volunteered his words and actions, something apparently his defenders cannot or will not acknowledge.
Perhaps, someday, the advocacy media and its abettors and defenders will awaken to this: You're responsible and can be held accountable for what you say publicly.
Too, perhaps when they stop hyperventilating and run out of hyperbolic invective, they'll see that no one's trying to shut them down or kill them, just hold them to some unbiased standard of reliability and professionalism which they seem to have either lost or jettisoned.
Perhaps, too, they'll recall, or learn for the first time, that journalists should seek the truth and report it accurately, as well as be accountable and be respectful of sources and subjects.
The Easongate After...: What have we learned?
* 5/6 of the journalists/media workers killed in Iraq have been killed by - what the press euphemistically labels - insurgents, militants or guerrillas.
* There is ample evidence that some of these journalists WERE targeted and executed by the "insurgents/militants/guerrillas", taken hostage, threatened, etc.
* Journalists have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with these "insurgents/militants/guerrillas" when they fired on a civilian DHL aircraft. Journalists were "invited" to record and distribute the public execution of election workers in the streets of Iraq - and did.
* There seems to have been a "whispering campaign" among the House of Journalists that journalists are being deliberately targeted by the U.S. military. This has been advanced in Nik Gowan's writings, Chris Cramer praised Nik's theories at INSI, and allegedly Eason Jordan implied it at WEF.
* This "whispering campaign" includes rumors and falsehoods being passed on by journalists who should be custodians of fact. For example, the falsehoods include Schonfeld's recent assertion that "The US Army has never completed its investigation into that incident." This is not to pick on Schonfeld, but demonstrate the misinformation fueling this campaign.
* The 1/6 of the journalists allegedly killed by U.S. fire seems to have garnered 90% of the journalistic outrage.
* There is a moral disparity being displayed by journalists who are dispassionate about obvious war crimes by insurgents/militants/guerrillas but quick to - as Jules Crittenden describes it - "willing to think the worst of the US military, and ascribe malicious intent to accidents of war."
* The political response by the Left and PressThink upon Eason Jordan's resignation has been that either Eason Jordan was wrongfully censored by a Vast Right-Wing Blog-spiracy or that the punishment didn't fit the crime. Both of which are assumptions - leaps of faith to a politically favorable conclusion - without the facts to back either up.
I think Will Collier is correct to say, "MSM, Heal Thyself." I think the American Mainstream Media Party, increasingly driven by supra-national media globalization and 24/7 headlines-by-the-minute news cycles needs to reflect on what it means during modern human conflicts.
I've read what he said in November, and there is nothing outrageous about it.
By ALL accounts, the discussion revolved around the threat to journalists in Iraq. Someone suggested that all the journalists killed by Americans were "collateral damage." (Barney Frank denies using the words "collateral damage", but others have claimed he did so.) Jordan wanted to make it clear that these deaths were not "accidental" in the sense of "collateral damage", which implies that a bomb goes off, kill its target, and kills innocent bystanders as well. Thus, it appears that Jordan said that "the US has targeted journalists" in the sense that their deaths were no accident--- e.g. a sniper aimed at, and killed, a cameraman, a tank aimed at, and killed, journalists at the Palestine Hotel, etc.
When the implications of what Jordan said became clear, he retracted them immediately.
There is not one single account that quotes Jordan saying that the US targeted journalists AS journalists. That is the conclusion drawn by a number of people, but from Jordan's perspective it is easy to see how, in his concerns for the safety of the reporters he supervises, the reckless disregard shown by US forces toward those it is targeting was the point.
There is little question that the US kills innocents with abandon in Iraq at this point -- in violation of the Geneva conventions. As an occupying force the US does not have the right to kill drivers who get too close to a convoy, for instance, yet it does so.
There is also little question that the US engages in abuse and torture and killing of prisoners in Iraq----and that some journalists have been detained and subjected to abuse and torture.
This is the real outrage on what is happening in Iraq, and it is an outrage that the WNs don't even recognize as outrageous. They literally approve of whatever methods are necessary to maintain the safety and good reputation of its occupying forces---going so far as to close down the last hospital in Fallujah to prevent the truth of how many innocent people were being killed in the assault on that city.
The WNs are the real enemies of America, because while the rest of the world is exposed to the truth of what the US is doing in Iraq, the vast majority of Americans remain wholly ignorant, and are then surprised when the rest of the world hates the US. We are creating whole new generations of potential terrorists who are willing to do whatever is necessary to hurt the USA, and these terrorists will form their own small networks to achieve their ends.
But keep on pretending that Eason Jordan is the enemy, if it makes you feel good about the killing that is being done in your name.