The Register deserves a LAUREL for hammering a forgotten story until the government finally did its job, but Brubaker’s statement underscores a significant problem in journalism. The fact that the tragedy of Atalissa was allowed to continue for thirty years after it was exposed is an indictment not just of government regulators but also of the media’s propensity to move relentlessly on to the next story, to fire a single bullet at massive, complex problems and consider the job done. This tendency is exacerbated in an era of shrinking newsroom resources and ambitions that erode an outlet’s institutional memory and make it even less likely that reporters will have the time and mandate to tackle these kinds of stories in the first place, let alone stick with them once they have. For that we bestow a DART, not to the Register but to the kind of ephemeral thinking and processes that infect newsrooms nationwide. We hope that this tale from Iowa—both cautionary and inspirational—prompts a thorough scouring of newspaper morgues everywhere. There are bound to be other Atalissas.
Darts and Laurels
06:00 AM - March 25, 2010
Darts and Laurels
A paper in the Midwest exposes a scandal. Thirty years later, it does it again.
Why won’t journalists ask Bill Cosby the tough questions? - Sexual assault charges are hardly ever mentioned to the TV star
Knoxville’s alt-weekly wasn’t losing money. It got shut down anyway - Scripps pulls the plug on Metro Pulse in favor of an entertainment supplement for the local daily
Chuck Todd’s Obama book says more about the author than it does about the president - ‘The Stranger’ underscores a broader problem with the way we cover politics
Beware labeling Pope Francis a liberal - Political boxes like liberal/conservative and evolutionist/creationist miss his real significance
The Virginian-Pilot produces a breakthrough investigation amid layoffs - Reporter John Holland discusses how the story came together, newsroom cutbacks, and colleagues who cover for each other
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
“[I]n spite of all the good reasons not to use the phrase, it is still very easy to find in the US press, even in headlines”
“Right now, my immediate plan is to go to work as a lay therapist at The Intercept to bring the healing there so John Cook and Matt Taibbi can return. I have great interpersonal skills.”
“Like the US drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated”
“The organization’s board of directors decided that UNITY will no longer host the quadrennial conferences for which it had become known”
Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.