Summer 2005

Eroding Freedoms: Secrecy, Truth and Sources

Among the casualties of the invasion and occupation of Iraq have been truth and trust, according to Sig Christenson, military affairs writer for the San Antonio Express-News. After working as both an embedded and independent reporter in Iraq, he writes about the “propaganda war within Gulf War II,” explaining that “Its roots are in Ground Zero, and I have been a willing participant. So, too, were many other reporters.” – Melissa Ludtke, Editor

Words & Reflections
Eroding Freedoms: Secrecy, Truth and Sources
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Truth and Trust: In Iraq War Coverage, They’ve Become Casualties
‘How to counter the drip-drip-drip of the dead and the maimed? Blame the media.’
By Sig Christenson
Military Reporters Protest Restrictions in Court Coverage
Letter from MRE to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Journalism In the Age of Pseudoreporting
As fake news surfaces on TV and government public relations staff sizes increase, there are questions worth asking about the impact on journalism.
By Frank Greve
Journalism and the Public Interest
‘… an old-time journalist finds it a matter of sorrow that the press, at the height of its influence, is at a depth of its public approval.’
By Daniel Schorr
Why Objectivity Still Matters (1 comment)
‘Precisely because we understand our [human] maintaining the pursuit of objectivity.’
By Stephen J. Berry
Why Won’t Journalists Follow the Money? (1 comment)
By not revealing the funders behind ‘think tanks,’ the information they provide shouldn’t be considered credible by readers.
By Morton Mintz
Spin Alley: A Microcosm of Journalism’s Struggles
Will reporters end this ritual and regain the trust of their audience in their 2006 and 2008 political coverage?
By Lisa Stone
Can Government Prohibit a Journalist’s Access to Public Officials?
Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. and The Sun are arguing this in federal court.
By Timothy A. Franklin
All Is Silent at City Hall
After a local publication challenges the Youngstown, Ohio mayor, city employees are prohibited from speaking with reporters, and the case goes to court.
By Andrea Wood
Anonymous Sources: Their Use in a Time of Prosecutorial Interest
How are decisions made about publishing information from confidential sources?
By Walter Pincus
Reporters Weigh the Value of Information Against the Threat of Legal Action
‘… no one should underestimate the ability of fear and sophisticated sound bites—otherwise known as propaganda—to shape the public mood.’
By Dan Olmsted
Protecting Reporters Who Protect Sources
Strategic disagreement among journalists has stymied attempts to pass a federal shield law.
By Lucy Dalglish
Trust: What It Means for Journalism
‘For people to have trust in this profession, to whom do they look for various standards, for professionalization, of the journalistic craft?’
A talk by Karen Stephenson
‘The Seduction of Secrecy: Toward Better Access to Government Information on the Record’
A Symposium About Access to Government Information
The White House: Can It Control the Press?
With secrecy on the rise, what is happening in Washington, D.C. is having a wider impact on how government officials relate to the press.
Edited remarks from Symposium Participants
A Downward Trend in Use of Anonymous Sources
Surveys of journalists and public opinion place the use and need for anonymous sources in a broader context.
Edited remarks from Symposium Participants
Reporting in an Era of Heightened Concern About Anonymous Sources
‘If you push back, you can get results, and we need to push back more collectively.’
Edited remarks from Symposium Participants
Offering Anonymity Too Easily to Sources
‘In the past few weeks reporters have called, and the first thing out of their mouth is, “You want to go off the record?”’
Edited remarks from Symposium Participants
Introducing a New Concept Into Libel Law
‘We think that institutional malice will make the libel inquiry more attuned to the real world.’
By Randall P. Bezanson and Gilbert Cranberg
Institutional Decision-Making As a Part of Libel Law
Excerpt from an article written by by Randall P. Bezanson and Gilbert Cranberg
The Public Isn’t Buying Press Credibility
‘The seeds of public distrust were sown long before the recent round of scandals.’
By Carroll Doherty
Why the First Amendment (and Journalism) Might Be in Trouble (2 comments)
‘Only 51 percent of 9th to 12th graders agree that newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories ….
By Ken Dautrich and John Bare
Loving and Doubting Journalism at the Same Time
A University of Missouri survey of public attitudes toward journalism reveals a complex pattern of responses.
By George Kennedy
Ethical Journalism Is Not an Oxymoron (1 comment)
In ethical decision-making journalists compare ‘very favorably with those who work in other professions.’
By Lee Wilkins and Renita Coleman
Looking at American Journalism From the Outside In
‘As journalists struggle to report on and understand their times, they cannot escape being part of their times.’
By Ron Javers
When the Beat Does Not Go On
A longtime journalist reflects on reinventing her life outside of a newsroom.
By Huntly Collins
Words & Reflections: Books
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Seeing What Others Failed to Notice (1 comment)
Reporting from Baghdad, Jon Lee Anderson ‘offers a profound antidote to the simplistic impulses of American television news ….’
By Edward A. Gargan
Getting an Up-Close View of the Military in Iraq
‘For the first time it has been possible for large numbers of journalists to observe closely the behavior of U.S. troops and how it refracted among Iraqis.’
By Alissa J. Rubin
Passionate Criticism of Iraq War Coverage By the American Press
A journalist longs for a more ‘dispassionate discussion’ of U.S. war policy.
By Tom Wicker
A Remembrance of Foreign Reporting
In ‘Bad News,’ a retired network correspondent eulogizes the decline of foreign news reporting.
By John Maxwell Hamilton
The Global Poverty Beat
‘What choices will news organizations make in the years ahead about coverage of the world’s poor and their problems?’ Two new books provide direction.
By Chris Waddle
An American Correspondent Brings Africa Out of the Shadows
‘Western reporters in Africa get away with an ignorance that would not be tolerated if they were assigned to other world regions ….’
By Wilson Wanene
Journalist’s Trade
Training Journalists in Foreign Countries
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
When Journalism Training Isn’t Enough (1 comment)
‘… our newsrooms are impoverished, and it will take much more than training courses to correct the situation.’
By Sue Valentine
Press Silence Before Rwanda’s Genocide (1 comment)
‘If any of my students reacted against the government’s methods of control, they feared for their lives.’
By Jacques A. Rivard
Training Iraqi Translators How to Act as Reporters
With concerns about safety, ‘our interpreters became something much more than translators.’
By Patrick J. McDonnell
A Challenging Experience in Cape Verde (1 comment)
‘There are journalists who justify their apathy with the lack of [good working] conditions.’
By Rui Araujo
Helping Armenian Reporters Dig Deeper (1 comment)
More in-depth and better-documented stories began to be told after an intensive training program.
By Lucinda Fleeson
Advice and Guidance for International Journalism Trainers
‘Until overseas trainers get to know the interests of the particular individuals with whom they’ll work, they are unlikely to be able to specify terms of success.’
By John Bare
Trainers Can Remain Foreign to Local Journalists
Due to cultural and language differences, trainers can be ‘regarded as a sort of extraterrestrial as they deliver their advice and lessons.’
By Ragip Duran
Lessons in Teaching Foreign Journalists
‘Issues of press freedom and independence … burn into your consciousness and touch your heart.’
By Jerome Aumente
Strategies for Training International Journalists (1 comment)
By Jerome Aumente
Support for International Journalism Training (12 comments)
By Jerome Aumente
When Bureaucracy Trumps Excellence (1 comment)
In Eastern Europe, journalists struggle to find their footing.
By Valerie Hyman
Tips for American Trainers
By Valerie Hyman
Journalism Education That Succeeds
Students at Tbilisi’s Caucasus School learn by immersing themselves in the skills and work of journalism.
By Karl Idsvoog
Getting Ukrainian Journalists to Ask Ordinary People Questions
‘We wanted to get them to report beyond press releases and false assurances of the politicians and bureaucrats.’
By Peggy Simpson
Debating How and Why Journalists Do What They Do
‘After listening to the real-life stories of real-life Polish journalists, I wasn’t so dogmatic or judgmental.’
By Kevin Cullen
Press Freedom in Ropczycka, Poland
An American journalist observes the opening months of a newspaper’s birth.
By Watson Sims
It’s Tough to Find New Footholds in Journalism
‘My experience speaks to the barriers that prevent the free trade of journalistic talent.’
By George Abraham
Respecting Cultural Traditions in a Newsroom
At the Lakota Times, editors help reporters blend their language and ceremonies into their work.
By Tim Giago
New Tools in Telling News Stories
In online workshops, Spanish-speaking journalists learn how to convey news in its broader reality.
By Daniel Ulanovsky Sack
Planting the Roots of Public Radio In Chile (1 comment)
‘Teaching public radio in a place where people didn’t know anything about it was a huge challenge ….’
By Doug Mitchell
Teaching Journalism, Finding a Home
A big challenge was balancing ‘my strong sense of ethical practice with a desire to avoid preaching an “American way”….’
By Michele McLellan
Sharing Techniques of Publishing
In Jakarta, an admirable venture was in need of organizational training.
By Ralph Hancox
International Journalism
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
When Genocide Is a Story Left Largely Untold (4 comments)
‘The challenge for journalists in a situation like Darfur is to remember that our job is to cover history, albeit on the fly, and not just events or press conferences.’
An Interview with Nicholas Kristof
Darfur Fits Into a Pattern of Reporting Neglect
‘Newspaper bosses are unlikely ever to return Africa staffing to what it was in the 1990’s.’
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Fear and Self-Censorship in Vladimir Putin’s Russia
‘One bargains with oneself. How much can I sacrifice before I lose respect for myself as a journalist?’
By Masha Gessen
Editorial Dilemmas at an Independent Magazine in Moscow
By Masha Gessen
Increasing Press Repression in Russia
‘… bullying calls from the presidential administration or local governors act as a covert substitute for the rule of law.’
By Alex Lupis
Curator's Corner
The Nieman Reunion: A Time to Talk and Listen
‘I understand better our obligation to expand communication about the program through the tools of e-mail and the Web.’
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
A Berlin Experience for American Journalists
At the American Academy, debate and dialogue lead to changed perspectives.
By Paul Stoop
An Unseen Side of Iran (1 comment)
A Photo Essay By Molly Bingham