06 June 2007

Questions for Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston

"When the Press Fails...", Jay Rosen comments:

Also, I am going to try to get one or more of the authors to come in and respond to some of this.
That would be cool.

I'd be interested to hear the authors distinguish between the reasons for the press failure pre-9/11 and post-9/11. For example, from the 23rd Annual Ralph McGill Lecture (pdf):
The challenge for newspapers is staying focused in the days ahead, as the war on terror ebbs and flows, and the natural longing for normalcy is accompanied by a longing for a return to synthetic news. We would do our readers--and all the citizens of this great democracy--a grave disservice if we fail to cover the news that matters.

After all, the United States might have been better prepared for the terrorist attacks of September 11 if the press had done the job it should have been doing in the last decade.

As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recently admitted, he ignored pleas from officials last year to write efforts to combat terrorism.
and the 2004 Knight Lecture:
Remnick observed that for a decade or more after the collapse of communism, American mainstream journalism took "a triumphal nap, a vacation from sufficient awareness" about the tensions that were building in the Middle East. Throughout the 1990s, the evening news was evolving into "a kind of nonfiction show-business mill" that churned out "sustained narratives of developing gossip." Indeed, the biggest story of the decade concerned the sexual dalliances of the president of the United States.
How does this criticism of press failure support or contradict the authors' conclusion: "Perhaps the path to reform is too obvious. Let every organization start each day by deciding whether they are reporting events from the standpoint of the people or from the viewpoint of those in power."

I'd also like to know what methods were employed by the authors when conducting their post hoc analysis of this press failure to guard against confirmation bias and historian's fallacy/hindsight bias (or reverse hindsight bias when defending past decisions).

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