Even with yesterday’s reticence in mind, Politico has consistently been remarkably open. My CJR colleagues and I have benefited from many conversations and e-mail exchanges with their reporters and editors, unfettered by obtrusive PR handlers. Our reporting has benefited—and consequently our readers’ understanding, and Politico readers’ understanding, have benefited.
While as a media writer I certainly have a vested interest in journalists being transparent, I’ll acknowledge that from time to time a “no comment” will be reasonable. But it shouldn’t be or become routine.
If it does, you run the danger of setting up a newsroom culture that suggests that mistakes—or outright journalistic sins and misdemeanors—can be brushed by without explanation or correction. I can’t imagine that’s a good long-term strategy.
Rosen’s post also noted that Politico declined to explain another element of their Hastings/McChrystal coverage—their decision to host a PDF of Rolling Stone’s unpublished article before the magazine had published—when queried by my colleague Greg Marx.
Despite ample opportunity, Nichols and editor-in-chief John Harris declined to explain the thinking behind their site’s posting of Rolling Stone’s copyrighted, unpublished, content.
And so I’ll ask again: Care to explain?