Here’s Rusbridger on that. I hadn’t known that Rusbridger, desperate for support on the story, actually phoned Bill Keller to encourage him to get on it; Davies then briefed the Times reporters:
If the majority of Fleet Street was going to turn a blind eye, I thought I’d better try elsewhere to stop the story from dying on its feet, except in the incremental stories that Nick was still remorselessly producing for our own pages. I called Bill Keller at The New York Times. Within a few days, three Times reporters were sitting in a rather charmless Guardian meeting room as Davies did his best to coach them in the basics of the story that had taken him years to tease out of numerous reporters, lawyers, and police officers.
The Times reporters took their time—months of exceptional and painstaking work that established the truth of everything Nick had written—and broke new territory of their own. They coaxed one or two sources to go on the record. The story led to another halfhearted police inquiry that went nowhere. But the fact and solidity of the Times investigation gave courage to others. Broadcasters began dipping their toes in the story. One of the two victims began lawsuits. Vanity Fair weighed in. The Financial Times and The Independent chipped away in the background. A wider group of people began to believe that maybe, just maybe, there was something in this after all.
They “took their time.” There has to be room for this in today’s hamster-wheel environment of sped-up news productivity requirements. (For contrast, read Reuters’s harrowing look inside NotW, the hamster-wheel of evil. Seriously, these are news-productivity requirements run amok.)
Is this a knock on new media? Not at all. In fact, academics should examine the News of the World story as a case study in how social media amplified the power of the Guardian’s recent scoops to a deafening pitch around the globe, to a degree the Guardian could never have achieved on its own. There may be a new model in this.
But for now, let’s pause a moment and give it up, just once, for the old school. Another investigation changes the world.