Blogger Journalism – The Rumsfeld Files

24 Feb ’06

The conventional wisdom has the mainstream media reporting, editing and writing, and bloggers merely writing. Reporting and editing require resources and more intensive expertise, the argument goes, and cannot generally be done in a bathrobe and bunny slippers. Indeed, Craig Newmark of Craigslist said as much to me in an email after he commented on a post here about a rumoured citizen journalism project of his (though he was silent on the bunny slippers thing). And ‘struth, that division has generally been borne out by real-world experience.

But there have been exceptions. In editing, the memetrackers, like the memeorandum twins, megite, chuquet and reddit, have, in a model example of rapid Darwinian adaptation, been evolving into quite sophisticated quasi-editorial tools, and increasingly I’m realizing that my early skepticism was … well, premature (mea culpa, btw).

And there have been examples of journalism as well, most notoriously perhaps the deconstruction of Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes piece on President Bush’s National Guard service, an episode that of course ended with Rather’s resignation.

But today, quite remarkably, another example, and original journalism it is. The Guardian reports that “law student and blogger” Thad Anderson has released on his blog Outraged Moderates notes taken by Stephen Cambone, now Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence, of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s orders issued in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The notes, released under Freedom of Information requests, portray the urgency of the circumstances and will renew criticism of the Bush Administration for its perceived willingness to rush to judgment on Iraqi involvement in 9/11.

All in all, quite a day for blogger journalism.

Previous post:

Next post: