Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who Says The Early Bird Gets The Worm?

The New York Times received a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the NSA warrantless domestic surveillance story. It was a great piece of journalism and an excellent example of the press acting as a check on abuses of governmental power. My only beef is that they should have received the honor last year, but they didn’t because they chose to sit on the story for months, and by doing so, they showed their willingness to abdicate their responsibility to inform the public when it matters. If this story had come out before the election, things may have turned out differently and that is something the New York Times will have to live with.

It’s a great piece yes and James Risen deserves accolades for his work, but timing is everything, and the impact of a story should be as relevant as its content. Would Seymour Hirsh’s piece on the My Lai massacre have had the same impact if the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and the 33 other newspapers worldwide that published it, had instead sat on the story until after the war? The people’s right to know is not contingent upon whether or not the information being revealed is convenient for the Bush administration. In the end, The New York Times failed its reporter because a year late, and integrity short, does not a prize worthy article make.

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