All the news that’s fit to print about all the news that’s fit to print
: Having someone else do your reporting for you — which is how Rick Bragg wrote a story from a Florida town without spending much time there — is hardly a new or scandalous behavior in the news biz.
Every reporter you see on TV has a producer doing legwork aplenty — and often even conducting the interviews (with the TV star edited in later).
The newsmagazines have armies of correspondents getting the facts for the stories written in New York (and whenever an editor wants to know something that’s not there, they put a blank in the story — a “TK” — that is filled in by a researcher).
What Rick Bragg did was no cause for suspension or the sliming of his career. Says Bragg: “Those things are common at the paper. Most national correspondents will tell you they rely on stringers and researchers and interns and clerks and news assistants.” And not just at the Times but everywhere in the business.
: If there’s justice or taste in the publishing business (you’re welcome for the straight line) no one will buy the book written by stinking liar Jayson Blair. It will have absolutely no credibility. But Times-haters will buy it and quote it and so someone will publish it.
Read Howard Kurtz’ weekend story about the book proposal to see just how far up the ass a human head can go.
Blair says of Malvo, the alleged triggerman in some of the Washington-area sniper murders last fall: “The moment I began to see parallels between his life and mine was the moment things began falling apart.” He writes of “how the frustrations of black men in this world can explode, crescendo into a huge rage that can manifest itself in some odd and sometimes unclear ways.”
In the proposal, which was read to The Washington Post by a source not connected to Blair, the 27-year-old admits that he “really screwed up,” “distorted the truth” and “embarrassed the New York Times and myself.” But the dominant motif is one of anger — hurling unsubstantiated charges of racism at the paper and promising to reveal the Times’s “darkest secrets,” which he says, without offering evidence, involve drug parties and one editor’s affair with an intern.
Blair casts his story as one of “a young black man” told he would never succeed “by everyone from his white second-grade teacher to his editor at the Times, who rose from the fields and got a place in the master’s house and then burned it down the only way he knew how.”
He doesn’t just play the race card. He plays the race casino. So black rage is an excuse for lying, cheating, sliming, and sleazing (and by extension to Malvo: murder)? No, there’s no excuse for what he did. None.
: UPDATE: Late-breaking opinions….. Reading my comments on this post, I have a few responses….. I’m not saying that it’s right not to credit stringer and other lowly souls. I’m saying that it is done everywhere and thus it’s wrong to treat Bragg as if it is a sudden sin he just invented. It’s not. It’s standard practice. Whether or not it should be standard practice is an entirely different argument. But it’s one in which Bragg should not be caught in the middle…. I need a copy editor to fix that last sentence….. Gawd, I miss writing with dots….. Stop me…..
: And on bylines: As I was saying to Elizabeth Spiers at lunch today… Andnow that she’s a hot media property, that’s quality name-dropping… Anyway, as I was saying today and now I’m obnoxiously quoting myself…. My own mother used to tell me about stories she’d just read in the Chicago Tribune and I used to have to say, “Yeah, Ma, I know, I wrote that.” Reporters’ own mothers don’t notice their bylines. Thus, nobody else in the world could possibly give a rat’s rump about Rick Bragg’s byline….