Adversarial journalism part 2

Did you see the New York Times op-ed debate between Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald? It’s about “the future of journalism,” and the Times doesn’t use that language lightly. If you’re interested in the press, you should at least read a short commentary, like this one. But for a more thorough selection, see my relevant pulls below.

Greenwald appeared in the column on the heels of announcing, a bit prematurely, his new media venture—described succinctly as something supporting “adversarial journalism.” I don’t think what he spoke of in the column is really all that adversarial (in the real sense of the word), and I bet Greenwald wouldn’t either. But compared to the way a lot of old-guard American outlets operate, it seems we can all agree to use the descriptor.

After the break, here’s Greenwald in his first important declaration:  Continue reading

Adverserial journalism part 1: disclaimer


If you’re a source and I want to interview you or someone else you work with, there’s almost no chance (0.00%) that the story I’m writing will be an adversarial one. I’ve done some work in this vein, but what I do today isn’t it. The nature of my recent freelance contracts isn’t to inflame the public’s sense of right and wrong. Believe me: if it becomes that, you’ll know it, because I’ll tell you, and I’ll ask you what you think about it.

I frequently discuss so-called “adversarial journalism” on my site simply because I have a high regard for it. I believe it has the potential to nudge democracy in the right direction. And because it’s worth discussing. What are blogs for if not discussing?

I felt compelled to make the above disclaimer because a source recently returned my call to say, more or less, that they weren’t going to talk to me. They had read some of my website and—the implication was—it didn’t sit well with them. (I wonder why they called me back at all.)

I happen to agree with one of their sentiments: they’re from such a cool organization that they don’t need my promotion. Maybe they thought the risk of my doing an incendiary story (again, in reality, 0.0%) was just too high. But it’s their loss. I wasn’t lying when I said I was going to focus on their innovation and that alone.

What’s the moral here? Quick-hit interviews do not investigative reporting make, and I *will not* write incendiary things unless I have solid basis for it.