Yes, it will be on the final
: Tim Blair’s attitudinal fisking [sorry Mr. Strunk, sorry Mr. White for that phrasing] of a Washington Post report from Iraq should be required reading in journalism schools. The Post reporter, Jackie Spinner, sets out to tell how American soldiers turned one Iraqi against America. But Blair shreds the assumption and attitude in her writing by using her own reporting to show just how absurd her view is. It is an object lesson in the bias of a single story and the need to give the public facts — including the reporter’s perspective — to let them judge for themselves.
While I was in Boston, I had the pleasure of meeting with David Fanning, exec producer of Frontline, and a few of his valued producers and editors to brainstorm about some of the wonderful things Frontline is doing and can do online for the show… and for journalism (in 1995, Fanning put complete interviews online; at Frontline World, Berkeley students are citizen journalists creating stories for the web and for the show). David told me about a segment he produced on the first show he made at WGBH, taking a single story and retelling it through a few perspectives. That’s what everyone does with the news. We need to help them do that and then compare and contrast.
That Post reporter, Spinner, did something valuable: She went into the streets of Baghdad and talked to one person and got quotes about his experience. At the Harvard confab, Jill Abramson of the NY Times and Rick Kaplan of MSNBC emphasized the value their large organizations bring to the world by supporting expensive — and dangerous — reporting in places like Iraq. I couldn’t agree more. That is all the more reason why the full extent and full value of that reporting should be made available to the readers (though only a few) who would like to dig down deeper and look through a different side of the prism — and add facts and questions and viewpoints.
Yes, this will look messy compared with the well-packaged, centralized marketplaces of news we have now. Welcome to the remix society. Tim Blair remixes Jackie Spinner: same quotes, different perspective, different stories. Thanks, Prof. Blair.
[And thanks, Glenn, for the link]