Re: Has the press become more docile during the Bush administration?

That’s a hard one on which to generalize. I think what’s happened is that in the restructuring and economic downsizing of the print side, there’s been simply a reduction of resources on coverage of the White House in particular, the administration in general. And relatively few papers now really have the human resources to go beyond the briefing room and dig into what’s happening behind the scenes. Washington Post is one of them, and I don’t think we’ve backed off at all. But if you’re talking about the press in general, I think there probably has been a loss of energy there – of commitment to it. And obviously at the state level where I do a lot of reporting, in almost every state capital that you visit now people are worried about the reduction in the size of the news bureaus, and the loss of coverage at that level of government. There is no such thing as objectivity if you think of that as being something, as the old phrase used to be, “holding up a mirror to reality”. Because what we do every day in journalism is omit most of the information that we’ve gathered. You go to a hearing, you hear all the testimony as we did with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. You come back with notebooks filled with notes, and you select little bits of it for your story. That implies news judgments, and news judgments imply values. So we are applying our own value system to our work every day. You can hold yourself to some kind of a standard of fairness in doing that. And the best definition I know of “objectivity” has not to do with the product, but with the process of trying to measure what’s happening against the evidence. And that’s something that reporters can do and should do. Recorded on: 9/13/07

These days, few newspapers have the resources to send people past the briefing room.

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