In the days since we learned about New York Times reporter David Rohde’s escape from Taliban captivity, it’s also come out that at least forty news organizations knew of Rohde’s kidnapping. Well, make it forty-one. Some senior CJR staffers knew about about the situation and we kept it quiet, too. Times executive editor Bill Keller told us that the blackout was necessary to keep Rohde safe, but the decision has generated debate and discussion inside our newsroom and outside about just what is the threshold for withholding a story from the public.
Did the news organizations, including CJR, do the right thing in complying with the media blackout? At what point is such a blackout appropriate?