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February 13, 2005

CONTRASTING VIEWS on the Eason Jordan story:

Some suggest that Jordan got a bum rap. Former CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson wrote in an e-mail to the AJC that Jordan was dedicated to "the value of hard reporting by real journalists who braved going out into the field, like he so often did, rather than merely opining. It's ironic that he was brought down partly by talk-show and blogging folks who represent the opposite approach and have seldom . . . ventured out to do . . . frontline reporting."

But contrast that with this one:

Deborah Potter, a former CNN reporter who heads NewsLab, which does research on TV news, said even honest misstatements "are always exacerbated by delay and obfuscation, and I think both of those happened in this case."

Online blogs "are becoming a force to be reckoned with," she said. "The questions that were raised were good journalistic questions: 'What exactly did he say?' The way you deal with this kind of controversy is by being transparent, by being open."

Indeed.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Singer emails:

"Walter Isaacson wrote in an e-mail to the AJC that Jordan was dedicated to "the value of hard reporting by real journalists who braved going out into the field, like he so often did, rather than merely opining... talk-show and blogging folks who represent the opposite approach and have seldom . . . ventured out to do . . . frontline reporting."

The CJR Daily managing editor had a similar "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" response -- which I'm sure is a sincere reflection of how journalists see themselves.

What they seem to be oblivious to is that, as far as the rest of the US population is concerned, *they're* the ones "merely opining" on the people who really "braved going out in the field". Remember when a Marine exhausted from days of combat in Fallujah made a snap decision (and probably a correct, if tragic one) to shoot a man he thought was playing dead? And was made out to be the new Lieutenant Calley by all the journalists sitting in New York and Atlanta? Well, I have him in mind when I'm told to regard myself as unworthy to judge Eason Jordan.

Indeed. We're not talking Perry White here. In fact, this quote at the end of the story is especially revealing:

But Bob Furnad, a former president of Headline News, said he considers Jordan "a very serious journalist in the purest form."

"He never pulled any punches."

But he did, of course, when -- as he himself admitted -- he refrained from reporting on Saddam's atrocities in order to retain "access" in Baghdad. Why doesn't that count, to this guy?

Tom Maguire notices, meanwhile, that the New York Times has finally gotten around to this story and observes:

A "journalistic tempest"? This is the first story to appear in the Times! Geez, fashionably late to a party is one thing, but fashionably late to a journalistic tempest?

Read the whole thing.

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