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Look for our new Watchdog Blog

SHOWCASE | October 05, 2006

We’ve added a new, important feature to this Web site: A blog in which at the outset at least 11 journalists, some of them very well known, will be writing frequently on coverage of important issues in the news, and on the news industry as well.

By Barry Sussman

We have a strong lineup of writers for our new Watchdog Blog. Included are David Halberstam, Norman Pearlstine, Geneva Overholser, Morton Mintz, Gilbert Cranberg, Clark Hoyt, Bob Garfield, Stephen Bloom, Mary Curtis, Saul Friedman and Pete Weitzel. Some have already weighed in with their first items; for some it may be a few weeks before they can contribute. At least three are finishing books right now. [Click here for bios of the bloggers.]

We intend to add more writers as we go along, including some from outside the United States.

Day to day in many news organizations there's no real encouragement for reporters and editors to do the best job they can. Instead, it's just the opposite: The message sent by cuts in staff, cuts in news hole and focus on easy features, not hard news, is loud and clear and very, very disheartening and cynical.

Making things worse is the confusion spread by organized, high-level disinformation campaigns and lies, unending attacks on press credibility and news organizations’ own repeated bumbling and lack of concern. No one expects perfection but, as the gossip columnist used to say, "Where are standards?" 

Amid such surroundings it seems to us that it could be important, even vital, to have sympathetic, knowledgeable, respected writers offer a little guidance and commentary and, every now and then, show us how our work is supposed to be done.

We took this site online in May 2004 with a focus on having experts from Harvard and elsewhere pose questions the press should ask. Since then we’ve had more than 130 contributors and 440 or so items. We are of course continuing that. The blog is a supplement.

The blog format makes it easy for readers to post comments. We’d love nothing more than to host a rich, continuing discussion of how to do better reporting and editing—and in the end, possibly, to help bring about to some excellent journalism.

Click here for our main blog page.

The NiemanWatchdog.org website is no longer being updated. Watchdog stories have a new home in Nieman Reports.