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
Fox News not outraged by retailers’ War on Thanksgiving - As giant stores commercialize the last holdout, Bill O’Reilly & Co. shrug
BuzzFeed’s all-positive books section - It doesn’t make sense to pledge positivity if your aim is to provide readers with critics’ takes on new books. It makes more sense if your aim is to cultivate a thriving community.
Disappointing Deadspin - It broke the Manti Te’o story, but then stopped reporting and resumed trashing
Healthcare in Great Britain vs. healthcare in the USA: part one - A conversation with Chris Smyth, health reporter for The Times of London
Asperger’s, pedophiles, and questionable motivations - A dart to the Daily Beast, for its ill-informed speculation on Adam Lanza’s psyche
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
True on the internet
Different century, same tricks
Hint: viral wins
Bestowing the annual honor on Snowden would send an important message
Jane Hall interviews Barton Gellman about his NSA stories, including how Edward Snowden contacted him
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.