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Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

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Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

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Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

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Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

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Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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November 14, 2006

Pro Thinks Pro-Am Reporting Could Work: John McQuaid Interview, Part Two

"With connectivity anywhere and everywhere, journalists tapping into networks can have eyes on the ground in a lot of places simultaneously. That has all kinds of potential for assembling a broad picture of what's going on." Plus: Has investigative reporting been innovative enough?

This is part two of my interview with John McQuaid, formerly an investigative reporter for the Times-Picayune. Part one is here. McQuaid is a contributing editor for NewAssignment.Net.

Jay Rosen: You talked about the emerging array of technologies and the people able to use them because we have the Web. Which of those technologies and which of those people seem most promising to you as writer and journalist looking for a new assignment, if I may put it that way? Which ones are you most excited about?

John McQuaid: Ten years ago, when I began researching our series on fishing, I signed onto a listserv called Fishfolk, for people involved in the study, management and practice of fishing. This was a great introduction to journalism via the digital community. I would post messages asking for advice on issues, seeking sources of data, offering up ideas for discussion. I’d get rapid, smart feedback. That sparked threads that led to other questions. (I also met my wife, who was one of the founders of the list.) By today’s standards, it was a very simple tool, but it was very powerful one – a community with both book knowledge and practical knowledge, at my fingertips. So the ability to access and mobilize communities and social networks — whatever the technology —is obviously the most important. Journalists are in the business of assembling and refining knowledge — not just facts, but ideas — and we need allies of all stripes.

Jay Rosen: Fishfolk is a good example of a smart mob. Clearly, it worked for you as a reporter. They’re not “new” but now we have much greater means for putting such a network to work.

John McQuaid. With connectivity anywhere and everywhere, journalists tapping into networks can have eyes on the ground in a lot of places simultaneously. That has all kinds of potential — for assembling a broad picture of what’s going on nationally, for individual tips and stories. During election season, for example, we theoretically could find out what’s happening today, in every congressional district, on some issue. We can have photo or video (remember “macaca”?) of campaign events. We can track political ads and the reaction to them. Political blogs, like Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, are doing some of this already.

Jay Rosen: You said too many projects stop at “something about the FDA.” They don’t go on and try to say something no one has ever said before. What I meant by innovation is that without intending to do this, perhaps, enterprise journalism in the metropolitian press stopped at a certain point in what it could tell us about the world. It exited the explanatory game, letting readers fend for themselves. When we complain about he said, she said journalism we’re complaining about a tired and formulaic version of this exit strategy.

Yet it was always apparent how you “get beyond” that formula. You do he said, she said, we said. Why can’t the press investigate something like “Did the president mislead the country into war?” and come back with an answer? Yes, he did mislead us into war. Or no he didn’t.

Or let’s take a story you know well: Katrina and its lessons. Why shouldn’t I expect my Pulitzer-class newspaper to go in there and tell me, based on its own investigation, its own authority, exactly how much responsibility it says the feds, the state and the locals should get for what happened in 2005? (In percentages, like 40/25/35 percent.) Or take No Child Left Behind. I would sure like to know if it’s succeeding or failing as legislation. If I ask the honchos at my Pulitzer class newspaper why I can’t get answers like that, as against stories about…. what are they going to tell me?

Most likely, they will valorize the missing answers as an act of principled restraint. “We let the readers decide.” “Hey, this is news, not opinion.” “You’re asking us to come to a judgment, and we don’t do that.” And yet they won’t ask whether their authority is diminished by going a certain distance and stopping, whether greater innovations are necessary to maintain public confidence, and a given level of truthtelling. There is nothing newspapers are more proud of than their investigative reporting. But wouldn’t real pride have brought more advances in this art?

John McQuaid: Correct me if I’ve got you wrong, but one good example of the kind of reporting you’re talking about is the team of Donald Bartlett and James Steele. They worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer, then Time (where they were forced out due to budget cuts), and recently moved to Vanity Fair. They dig, dig, dig, assembling vast amounts of statistical data, documents, on-the-ground reporting, etc. and it leads them to expose patterns and take a position — typically, a broadly populist one. You don’t get a lot of newspaper series posing, then answering the question, “America: What Went Wrong?” I liked that, even if I didn’t always agree with what they were saying. But as we’ve been discussing, their technique brings research to bear on national issues and makes an argument. And look at their career path — it’s taken them away from newspapers, where it’s impossible to imagine them working now, to newsweekly, to glossy monthly. VF is a great platform, but it’s a shame to think that a handful of high-end magazines — and, of course, books — may be the last refuge for this kind of journalism..

To return to your point, I agree that investigations should be bold, draw conclusions, make judgments. What’s the use of digging otherwise? It can be clarifying, say something new, and it makes interesting reading. That’s what journalism is all about.

But there’s a lot of skittishness in the newspaper industry now because the old “objectivity” model is under assault. There are legions ideologically committed bloggers and commenters ready to slice and dice anything you put out there, especially stuff that has an edge. But there are also individuals and online communities that will take a more considered approach, take your findings and expand upon them, offer feedback. Maybe I’m being naive, but I think it’s all good — if the work is sound and you’re ready and able to defend it.

We could go off on a tangent about whether newspapers and newsmagazines should cast off the objectivity cloak altogether and wear their politics on their sleeves, like the British press – or political bloggers. I’m open to the idea, but still like the American model. Reality is always more complex and surprising than the crimped ideological formulas that define our political debates.

Jay Rosen: Bartlett and Steele are an excellent example, yes. I take it you don’t like my suggestions for Answer Journalism all that much?

John McQuaid: Divvying up the blame up for Katrina is interesting. I like it: Let’s go ahead and play the blame game! I’d say it sounds more like a starting point for the inquiry than the conclusion, though. What if the feds take 45 percent of the blame— or 10, or 80? What does that say, beyond finger-pointing? If it’s 80, why, and what does that mean for the next time something breaks, blows up?

“Did the President Mislead Us Into War?” is on some level too facile, maybe unanswerable (never mind that at this point, it’s also nearly beside the point — whether we were misled or not, we’re now stuck there and have to figure out what to do). It depends on what was going on in the president’s mind, which we’ll never find out. Even if we could, what if the president was sincere, but exaggerated his case? Is that misleading us, or is it just what politicians do all the time — albeit in a far grander scale than we’re used to?

To return to the main idea: If you make a provocative idea your assignment, you’ll be led down an interesting path. Maybe the research leads in a completely different direction than what you thought. But the idea should be to challenge people. In a society where people are raising walls to argument, tuning into media sources they agree with, tuning out those they don’t want to hear, journalism needs to cut across the barriers, not hide.

Jay Rosen: When I say, organs of the press could have tried to answer the question: did the president mislead us into war? what I mean is treat it as an urgent but also an open question, a matter unsettled and in need of calm, clear-headed investigation. Then investigate. Answer the question. Then defend the answer. True, you might discover something else is “the story,” leading in a different direction. I’d argue the nation still deserves an answer to the question.

John McQuaid: I agree. There’s no weightier decision than going to war, and the public traditionally places a lot of trust in the president — and the presidency itself — to make those choices wisely. Now Iraq is a giant mess. It would be great to unravel what went wrong back at the beginning, arrive at some kind of bottom line as to whether that trust was abused. What you describe is more like interpretive history than journalism — though that’s in some ways an arbitrary distinction, another barrier we might want to blow up.

What I worry about is: the issue is still very divisive, so that even a cool, probing account would get chewed up in the public square by those with strong feelings and lots of bandwidth. It may take more time and distance to be able to spark a more serious debate, history rendering a verdict, etc. (Though everything moves so much faster these days, it may be that historical verdicts are now reached in months, not decades.)

Jay Rosen: Your principle of follow the story where it leads is basic. I think you’re right about that. As a reporter, what kind of “distributed social network” or “smart crowd” would be most valuable to you, given the kind of stories you want to tell?

John McQuaid: Depends on the story, right? As I mentioned above, communities of experts are especially valuable. The world is complex, and increasingly run by subcultures of people with very specialized knowledge. In most cases, they’re already wired together – fisheries specialists, scientists and engineers, federal regulators, political operatives. If you make an entree into these groups via listserv, blogging, website, and they’ll work with you in either an organized or ad hoc way, you’re halfway there.

The other half of the equation is volunteers — interested people who are drawn into your work somehow. In the course of their day, maybe have some time to do some digging on their own, providing data, tips, photos, video, ideas, feedback.

How do you put all this stuff together? That’s what we’re trying to find out now. I imagine you post your intentions, the questions you’re trying to answer. You persuade affected and interested communities to contribute. You pursue their leads and your own, post on your progress. At some point you put it all together and unveil the “findings.” Then the discussion takes off, maybe users drive it somewhere else.

But there are a lot of unknowns. Like other open-source projects, the ever-evolving organism of the story may grow in unpredictable ways. How does the transparency issue affect that trajectory? There’s a value in assembling information privately, then unveiling the findings. It’s straightforward. It can pack a big wallop, make news. If you’re doing everything out in the open, that may draw sources to you but scare others away, maybe those you really need. And what if you reach a conclusion that some community you’re working with collectively disagrees with?

Jay Rosen: I addressed some of those items here, but I don’t mean to say that fully answers the questions. Can you recall any stories you have worked, or let’s say run across, where an army of volunteers would have made a big difference?

John McQuaid: Environmental stories are ideal for this type of pursuit. Over the past generation, the desktop computer revolutionized local environmental activism, and Bush administration policies have stimulated it further. There are hundreds, thousands of local environmental organizations routinely accessing state and national databases on pollution, regulations, companies, lawsuits, etc., and many are starved for media attention. (I recently spoke at the meeting of one of them, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.) Debates about growth, sprawl and gridlock have produced a similar explosion of activism — on all sides.

Jay Rosen: I have been telling people that NewAssignment.Net is not trying to equal or duplicate what the established I-teams in professional newsrooms have done, but to report stories that the news media would find impossible or impractical to do. Do you think this is plausible, or should I stop saying it?

John McQuaid: It’s plausible, but I don’t think we know the answer to this yet. Certainly on the kind of short-term story mentioned above, the windows-on-the-world, real-time pulse of the Internet cannot be matched. On something more long-term, the form will be different from what you get in a newspaper, the experiences of reporting and reading or viewing will be different. But will the basic subject matter be different? Sometimes, yes. If your information sources are numerous and widely dispersed, you’ll get a bigger, brighter pallete of raw material to work with. In theory, you’ll be able to more easily identify below-radar trends or connections between things that don’t appear to be connected.

On the other hand, you’ve still got to shine the light in that same cobwebbed closet.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

John McQuaid spent twenty years at the Times-Picayune as a reporter. Path of Destruction is his book about what Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf and why. In 1997 he won, with “Path” co-author Mark Schleifstein, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for Oceans of Trouble, a series on the decline of global fisheries.

Jeff Jarvis says McQuaid is “a poster child for newspaper cutbacks done wrong.”

I have been arguing that cutbacks are a good thing if they are used to boil a paper to its essence, to get rid of the useless stuff and decide what a paper’s real value is: reporting. Cutbacks are bad if they maintain the commodity stuff at the expense of reporting.

Dan Kennedy was there when I explained NewAssignment.Net to the Berkman Center on Internet and Society. (Here’s the mp3 for audio; the webcast for video.) Kennedy writes:

What I find most interesting about Rosen’s idea is that he wants to figure out how to add professional journalists to the mix. Given the current economic decline of the news business, getting this right strikes me as essential both for preserving journalism’s public-service mission and, frankly, for helping the next generation of journalists find jobs. Indeed, Rosen welcomes help from journalism students.

Howard Weaver: “I’m not sure about Rosen’s ambitious plans for a national network of journalists and citizens joining to produce enterprise stories and investigations. But I am pretty sure there’s productive ground to plow in what he refers to as ‘Pro-Am’ journalism, where professionals guide the work of contributors.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at November 14, 2006 8:31 AM   Print


I find the prospects of the objectivity model disappearing disturbing.

In a socio-technological universe where anyone can be "heard" and sheer information density increases exponentially, objectivity will become more critical--not less.

The phrase "ideologically committed" can sound suspiciously like zealotry and unreasoning emotionalism. Not necessarily of course, but history has many examples of the perversion of ideological committment--and what happens when it's ignored or even embraced.

Posted by: Arlan Dean at November 14, 2006 9:17 AM | Permalink

Jay: great interview!

Arlan: I agree with you that it's disturbing but I'm not so sure objectivity will become more critical as a matter of course.

At the practical level, I can understand (although I see it as a problem) that the path of least resistance (*avoiding* being "shredded") is very tempting, as long as you can get away with it. And that doesn't seem to be much of a problem -- it's pretty much established as the "main stream." So unless an ideological move in the opposite direction occurs, I don't see much hope.


P.S. The way I see it, the idea that we are just not naturally objective is a valid one. I think the disturbing part is to conclude that because we all have our smaller or bigger handicaps in that respect, we should just revel in them and not even attempt to overcome them. That seems to result in abandoning the job altogether.

Posted by: Delia at November 15, 2006 10:20 AM | Permalink

comment on the interview itself

Jay, I completely agree with you on this:

"When I say, organs of the press could have tried to answer the question: did the president mislead us into war? what I mean is treat it as an urgent but also an open question, a matter unsettled and in need of calm, clear-headed investigation. Then investigate. Answer the question. Then defend the answer. True, you might discover something else is �the story,� leading in a different direction. I�d argue the nation still deserves an answer to the question."

I'm not buying his answer. Of course it wouldn't be easy to release it to the public and just sit and take the reactions (at least some of them not pleasant, either way the conclusion would go...) but doesn't that come with the territory? Hasn't that always been one of the difficulties journalists had to overcome? It's just not pleasant... plenty of times...-- it's not *supposed* to be! (The internet has just made it easier for a lot more people to react.)

If answering that question (to the best of one's ability) would be "interpretive history" it's a really sad state of affairs... I mean, ALL the facts are in (have been for a very long time...): there is no good reason why you can't look at the facts and decide yes, no or inconclusive.

And all those are valid answers, as long as you do your best take all available facts into account and "show your work" (give the step by step reasons why you conclude one way or the other) -- so your work can be properly critiqued.

The more balanced your approach, the less open you lay yourself to serious valid criticism. And you'd probably still not come out completely "unchewed" but you would at least get RESPECT... The criticism would not be that you, as a journalist (and by extension journalism as a whole, if no journalist would do this) is useless....


Posted by: Delia at November 15, 2006 3:46 PM | Permalink


Find a struggling newspaper and really look into it: how bad is it struggling? why is it struggling? what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving? etc.


Posted by: Delia at November 16, 2006 9:30 PM | Permalink


Your last post shows the problem with the previous one. If a local newspaper is sending space "Did the president mislead us into war?", they are not spending space on "what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving? "

The impact to the local community is less when the newspaper is sending print space on something other outlets are doing a better job reporting. After all most local outlets only report the feed fron the NYT, AP or other national news outlet for national news.

This is where Jay's experiement is so important. It will allow under editors review, the most expert analysis appear before the public.

Posted by: Tim at November 20, 2006 9:13 AM | Permalink


as I mentioned to you in email, I thought the selection of John McQuaid was absolutely spot-on and this interview just proves I was right ;-)

and he is most definitely one of the many emerging poster-boys for what happens when the cutback sword cuts the wrong way...

What troubles me, though is Howard Weaver's comment. I checked out Weaver's blog to read the whole thing, and he (like so many) mentions OhMyNews. Yet while OhMyNews is indeed an excellent example, they are having some financial struggles at the moment--not to mention that there's been little discussion on how satisfied the public in Korea may be with the pro-am model that OhMyNews employs...

and is anyone rising from the "am" part of that equation?

Along those lines, I keep thinking of discussions that have been going on for some time about bringing "new blood" into journalism. If corporate-owned newspaper behemoths are axing guys like McQuaid, (1) who might they be keeping? and (2) are they briging in "new blood" because they are willing to work super-hard for an inadequate wage?

I would think that to help the "new blood" the best blood should be in place. That, perhaps, might make a project like NewAssignmet a great place for "new blood" to begin--but only if the door will, at some point, be open to advancing the "am" into the "pro" ranks. Keep in mind that your most talented "am" folks may, at some point, make your best "pros."

Posted by: tish grier at November 20, 2006 12:21 PM | Permalink

Delia, are you a Readership Editor?

Posted by: Anna Haynes at November 20, 2006 8:06 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Delia, for all three comments.

I agree with your analysis. Especially: "There is no good reason why you can't look at the facts and decide yes, no or inconclusive." I think John looked at what I said as an attempt to prove a thesis I have about Bush, misinformation and war.

Well, I have a thesis, who doesn't? But my point was about stopping short of an answer, not a plea for a particular answer. There are commercial reasons for stopping short. But journalistic ones?

Tish: I agree that ams should be able to climb into the position of pros or the pro-am model isn't worth anything.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 20, 2006 10:38 PM | Permalink

Sorry for the delay, all...

Tim: hmmm... not quite sure what you are saying...

re: "Your last post shows the problem with the previous one. If a local newspaper is sending space "Did the president mislead us into war?", they are not spending space on "what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving?"

I didn't see them as being at all related... My suggestion was for *Jay* (sorry for not making it clear), for a possible future "article": to really look into a struggling newspaper (I think there would be a wealth of really good info coming out of something like that).

But since you brought it up, I *do* think that having well reasoned articles on topics such as: "Did the president mislead us into war?" -- especially if they were unique to the particular newspaper -- could really improve readership, which in my mind would be "making things better" (for the struggling newspaper...)

re: The impact to the local community is less when the newspaper is sending print space on something other outlets are doing a better job reporting. After all most local outlets only report the feed fron the NYT, AP or other national news outlet for national news.

well.. that's just part of it... I think the paper likely serves the community in more ways than just journalistically and those would have to be taken into consideration too...

And just so you have a much better idea of where I am coming from: I think the newspapers may be in much worse trouble than we know... (and if not now maybe in a not so distant future, they might actually need government support).

Anna: no

Jay: you are welcome!


Posted by: Delia at November 21, 2006 7:30 PM | Permalink

Re: Did the president mislead us into war?

The Chicago Tribune editorial board took a shot at this last year. It got some play in the blogosphere.

What do you think of the sufficiency of the Trib's editorial news analysis of this question?

Do you want to see this done in the news section instead/as well as the op-ed section?

Do you want to see this done by other news organizations so you have a broader analysis? News or op-ed?

Posted by: Tim at November 22, 2006 5:38 AM | Permalink


Here is my critique of the Chicago-Tribune article:

General criticism: leaves the analytical job to the reader without even giving them the information they would need to do such analysis.

Specifics (I'll just give them for what they gave as the first argument):

Biological and chemical weapons

re: 2002 CIA assessment: "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions."

OK�? That sounds like a truncated phrase, to me. It very likely had a qualifier before it. If not, what was the context around it? did the president take that phrase out of context? this is the kind of info you *need* to have if you want to decide, on your own or not, if the president *mislead* us -- the question is not 'did he flat out *lied* to us?'-- if that would have been the case... showing that he quoted actual sources would have been much more pertinent.

Re: 'Many, although not all, of the Bush administration's assertions about weapons of mass destruction have proven flat-out wrong. What illicit weaponry searchers uncovered didn't begin to square with the magnitude of the toxic armory U.S. officials had described before the war.'

Unbelievably vague at the factual level (and thus useless for analytical purposes), even more unbelievable in that it actually purports to draw a conclusion. Things the readers would *need* to know: what were the 'many' assertions that have 'proven' flat out wrong? what criteria does the writer use to conclude the assertions were 'proven' wrong? (to be fair to the president: just because whatever illicit weapons searches were done did not produce what would have been expected does not 'prove' anything -- too strong a word in this circumstance; again, to be fair to the president: what were the Bush administration's assertions that did NOT prove wrong?) . And again, were any of the assertions *misleading*? that's the QUESTION�

re: 'There was no need for the administration to rely on risky intelligence to chronicle many of Iraq's other sins. In putting so much emphasis on illicit weaponry, the White House advanced its most provocative, least verifiable case for war when others would have sufficed.'

Again, unbelievably vague and conclusory and it doesn't even draw the relevant conclusion... the question is: DID HE MISLEAD US?

Oops! I gotta go�
(more to follow; it might take me a while...)


Posted by: Delia at November 22, 2006 11:28 AM | Permalink


re: 2002 CIA assessment

I was surprised to see that the 2002 CIA report on the web was not linked from the Trib's editorial in the "On the Web" column to the left of the article. Big oversight. Of course, linking in the article where the report was quoted would have been better.



Posted by: Tim at November 22, 2006 6:23 PM | Permalink

To reinterpret "pro-am":

Professional journalists are the professionals in this construction, right?

Why is the other party an amateur? The other party is a professional in the issue being reported on, or at least a highly talented amateur who knows worlds more about it than the reporter does.

Looks to me as if this should be "pro-pro". Or "am [journalist]-pro [expert being consulted]"

In other words, your so-called amateur is the guy who knows what's going on and the professional is the guy who knows how to write an engaging paragraph about what somebody else tells him.

I would particularly suggest not telling some expert that you consider him an amateur.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at November 26, 2006 4:28 PM | Permalink

From the Intro