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How Press Failed on Iraq

If you missed the live program, as I did, you can watch “Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War” — a brilliant documentary that everyone who cares about the future of American journalism should see. The report

examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what’s changed?

A great deal, I believe, though the Washington press corps still tends toward stenography of powerful people’s utterances and, too often, lies rather than the serious, deep reporting we need. At least people are asking the right questions now more than they did before, but it’s taken way, way too long.

Note: Moyers devotes considerable time in this report to the exemplary — and therefore rare at the time — work by journalists in what was the Knight Ridder Washington bureau, which is now part of the McClatchy newspaper company. The KR reporters asked those questions when almost everyone else — with exceptions like several AP reporters and one from the Washington Post — was parroting the administration’s spin and outright lies.

I was employed at Knight Ridder in those days (and still own some McClatchy stock that came with the buyout of KR), and the people in the Washington bureau made me — and all journalists — proud.

Please watch the Moyers program. It is essential viewing.

1 Comment on “How Press Failed on Iraq”

  1. #1 Jon Garfunkel
    on Apr 30th, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    I may get to it, but this story has been told before.
    Are you familiar with Kent Bye’s open-volunteer collaborative documentary effort, the Echo Chamber Project? Apparently, the professional collaboratives have been him to the punch.