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
16 women whose digital startups deserve Vox-level plaudits - A look at the media entrepreneurs who aren’t grabbing headlines
Why was ‘Dasani’ shut out of the Pulitzers? - 5 problems with The New York Times’ ambitious, influential series on the life of one homeless Brooklyn girl
The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop - Repeal on deductible caps marks another step in The Great Cost Shift
The enduring pull of mag covers - Why do magazine cover images still hold so much cultural power in this decline-of-print era?
Michael Wolff’s digital media bloopers - The Newser founder trolls (other) digital-news companies
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
How did the clothes you’re wearing get to you? We trace the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry in video, words and pictures
Fantastic letter in The Times
How do you tell your family and friends?
A look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors
Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.