Whoever said that good old-fashioned journalism was dead and gone? Whoever said that in the Internet age newspapers were obsolete? Whoever said that investigative reporting was a thing of the past?
Whoever did, forgot to check with the Executive Editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson.
Under her editorship, investigative reporting has distinguished the New York Times and served as reminder of how much we need great papers. Seems every month someone at the Times crafts another piece of reporting that is hard-nosed and hard won. Take, for example, the series on Wal-Mart in China, or on the business of horseracing, or, as previously mentioned, on Foxconn. (See blog titled, “The Promise of Good Followership – Apple Ripens.”) They each required on the part of the paper a major investment of time and money. Over many months, sources had to be collected and confirmed, and facts had to be checked and rechecked.
In a speech she delivered last June, Abramson reaffirmed the importance of investigative reporting – and warned of a crackdown on those who leak government secrets. Ironically, given his reputation as a liberal democrat, Barack Obama or, at least, members of his administration, have been especially keen to prosecute those who make overt what the White House wants kept covert. Remember what became of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with aiding and abetting Julian Assange? In her speech, Abramson went so far as to say that “the environment in Washington has never been more hostile to report in.”
All the more reason to applaud the Times for regularly investing in investigative journalism. In order for the relatively powerless to hold to account the relatively powerful, they need to be armed with information that is qualitatively and quantitatively superior to what the Internet is likely to yield.