Ultimately—to end in the high-school way—I was happy to read the thoughtful apologies from “Mouthpiece Theater” participants. And happy, then, to forgive them their smoking jackets. But, really, we forget them at our peril—because the “Mouthpiece Theater” debacle offers, to use another phrase that is fashionable now, a “teachable moment.” It’s a warning of what can happen when a respected news organization allows its push for innovation to become permissive to the point of promiscuity—when, in the frenzy for eyeballs and embeds, an outlet sells out its core mission, and its audience in the process. “Experimentation is great and necessary in journalism, always and especially now; mistakes are a natural price of that; and everyone in every field needs to make his or her work as entertaining and attractive as it can be,” James Fallows put it. “But trying to compete for attention on sheer yuks is a step toward the brink.”
Behind the News
09:00 AM - August 10, 2009
Maws, Mouthpiece, and “Mad Bitch”: Innovation Gone Wrong?
Why the “experimentation defense” doesn’t hold up
Who cares if it’s true? - Modern-day newsrooms reconsider their values
What Is Russia Today? - The Kremlin’s propaganda outlet has an identity crisis
And from the left…Fox News - There’s more to Fox News’ strategy of hiring liberals than creating a public boxing match
Why Skype isn’t safe for journalists - Here are some alternatives for secure voice calls to use instead
Placing a bet on USA Today - Gannett has long felt the television model could translate into print. Now it’s using its flagship paper to double down on that idea.
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
Upworthy gets quality, exclusive journalism about income inequality; ProPublica gets a wider audience
We’re not in the Cold War anymore
What you think you know about online advertising is wrong
“Is it going to be hard in two years when you are no longer President and people stop letting you win at basketball?”
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.