Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Journalism: There's still some left

Brief time-out from making fun of journalism to raise a toast to some folks who are doing it right. You might have noticed, in the past few days, that there's a war on in the Caucasus. (If it's a surprise to you, imagine how shocked your average Deputy Managing Editor for Presentation and Design must be: that pesky international news getting in the way of the Olympics and the Back To School package again!)

In particular, kudos to the McClatchy team, which is unusual in keeping alive the idea that major regional papers ought to have their own international reporting. Editors, before you give your front pages over entirely to News2Use and MomsDotCom and whatever flavor of preseason sport you can fashion a centerpiece out of, please bear in mind the virtues of having a correspondent on the scene and one or two in Washington who can actually get hold of a moving story and make sense of it.

AP, please consider this a request to get the thumb out:

An Associated Press reporter saw Russian troops in control of government buildings in this town just miles from the frontier and Russian troops were reported in nearby Senaki.

...In Zugdidi, an AP reporter saw five or six Russian soldiers posted outside an Interior Ministry building.

... In the city of Gori, an AP reporter heard artillery fire and Georgian soldiers warned locals to get out because Russian tanks were approaching.

... An AP film crew saw Georgian tanks and military vehicles speeding along the road from Gori to Tbilisi. Firing began and people ran for cover. Cars could be seen in flames along the side of the road.

Great freaking God. The Washington bureau gets to make up hypothetical opening arguments in a hypothetical trial, but the reporter in Gori who is under the gun in a frighteningly literal way has to write that "an AP reporter heard" the artillery? Could we have some priorities in this bar, please?

With the official Realist Sorting Hat on, I'm inclined to think that one particular aspect of the US-Russia back-and-forth in this conflict is being badly underplayed. Anybody want to guess what?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the underplayed element you refer to related to Iraq? Didn't Russia oppose that invasion as illegal aggression and could do nothing about it? Did you perhaps want to see a bit more about how the U.S. has lost all moral authority to stop international aggression when it has shown itself to be recently one of its most egregious practitioners? Cuz I did.

9:56 AM, August 12, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Yes, I kinda wanted to see that higher and louder (though to give MCT credit, at least there's a mention of it in the Landay piece).

I'm also a little dismayed that that particular concern hasn't become a part of campaign discourse. There's actually a lot more to the "international image" thing than how many people show up for a speech in Berlin -- like the persuasive soft-power ability to exercise leadership through, well, moral authority.

1:27 PM, August 12, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Yeah, the sight of Bush condemning someone for invading a sovereign nation was a bit much.

5:21 PM, August 12, 2008  
Blogger Andy Bechtel said...

In a curious coincidence, both McClatchy stories that ran in the N&O today begin with a person smoking a cigarette:



1:33 PM, August 13, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

I didn't notice! An early nominee for the 2008 AP Memorial "He fished a Camel from his shirt pocket" award?

4:04 PM, August 13, 2008  

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