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.
As for anonymous sourcing, it is clear the recent efforts to penalize confidential sources, and reporters who use them, may have an impact onreporting another Watergate today. Famed Deep Throat source W. Mark Felt, who helped guide Woodward during his parking garage meetings, may have felt more threatened with legal problems, and possibly jail, had he cooperated in today’s climate — as would Woodward and Bernstein.
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.
Via Romenesko, of course. My blood pressure was so nice and low while I wasn’t reading that blog.
Look, first of all, a re-reading of All The President’s Men might have served Strupp well before writing about how the Internet would never have broken Watergate. If he had read his history, he’d have remembered there was plenty of pressure from within the Post as well as without to shut down these two kid reporters nobody’d ever heard of, get them off this story, give it to somebody more appropriately suited to the work, like the government reporters who should have been on the case from the beginning. Half the glory of the Watergate investigation, to me at least, is the way the story overcame its internal critics, and if you don’t think that was a big deal, clearly you’ve never experienced the backbiting, bitchy, jealous wonders that are journalists in a group.
And you know, as for Watergate requiring “boring hours poring over documents,” last time I checked, was what TPM and Firedoglake have been doing for months on stories you couldn’t have paid the Washington press to be interested in, like the Libby case and the U.S. Attorney firings. I guess we need a blogger ethics panel to determine why print journalists are slagging off relative unknowns on the ‘net for being somehow categorically incapable of doing the kind of work that leads to big stories while engaging in hero-worship (well-deserved, of course, but still) of then-relative unknowns at the Post for doing the kind of work that lead them to a very big story. Is it the pixels that are addling poor Joe Strupp’s brain? Because I’m sure if you asked, Marcy Wheeler and Josh Marshall could pull out a Remington and type all this stuff up, if that’s what it would take to get some respect around here. Plus, I mean, come on, First Draft put Douglas Feith’s misdeeds in actual print with an actual binding. I don’t know how much easier we can make it for these people.
This kind of uninformed crap crit makes me nuts, and not just because nobody kicks my fellow bloggers but me. It’s because it’s so unnecessary. The column would have been just fine without those easy shots at “opinion-laden blog postings” and “gotcha moments” and all the other things for which Strupp blames bloggers but of which any number of people calling themselves journalists in any number of media are guilty. It’s cheap, and it’s small, and it’s unworthy of E&P, and it’s flat-out wrong in many cases. Plus, it’s picking on people who bust their asses for no recognition, and often at great cost to themselves, supported only by their readers and very occasionally by people who see what they have to say and overlook the title on their nametags.
Just like Woodward and Bernstein, come to think of it.