Much of the rest of Emily’s argument I find pretty congenial with my not-entirely tongue-in-cheek notion of a Neo-Institutional-Hub-and-Spoke model. As commenter Jason Thomas, for instance, said below Emily’s post: “The argument was never made in the previous piece that twitter could not be a useful tool for sourcing new contacts or sources.”

The Guardian is indeed showing the way on many fronts, and if future-of-news thinkers helped it along, more power to them. But I was responding to their ideas as written—they are public intellectuals, after all—and obviously I took issue with many of them.

Finally, I realize I was reaching for some heavy artillery when I opened with Tarbell (and to see her invoked on all sides is one of the biggest kicks I got out the response) but I did it to make the point that in the end, for me, the public-service stories are the point.

Put another way, I, too, find inspiring the anecdote of the student who was able to network her way to great sources. But the anecdote is all about the reporter’s experience, the process, when what matters is the product.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.