Nieman Reports

Spring 1998

Watchdog, Attack Dog, or Lapdog?

Cover for Spring 1998

This issue on Watchdog Journalism originated with a call by Murrey Marder, the retired Washington Post Diplomatic Correspondent, for a return to more aggressive, but responsible, reporting. The package begins with two articles on the media's handling of the accusations that President Clinton had an improper sexual relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky. Excerpts from a seminar by Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, follow. Then we offer position papers on the status of watchdog journalism in four areas—the economic sector, state and local government, national security and nonprofit organizations.

Download PDF

Watchdog

Spring 1998: Watchdog Introduction

Watchdog March 15, 1998

This issue on Watchdog Journalism originated with a call by Murrey Marder, the retired Washington Post Diplomatic Correspondent, for a return to more aggressive, but responsible, reporting. The package begins with two articles on the media's handling of the accusations that President Clinton had an improper sexual relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky. Excerpts from a seminar by Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, follow. Then we offer position papers on the status of watchdog journalism in four areas—the economic sector, state and local government, national security and nonprofit organizations. Read more

The Economic Sector

Is Anything Really Wrong?

By The Economic Sector March 15, 1998

Some years ago The New York Times editorial page expressed the complacent notion that "great publications magnify the voice of any single writer." The statement is misleading. The instruments of the media multiply or amplify a voice, serving much the … Read more

Response: Demystify the Subject

By The Economic Sector March 15, 1998

Once upon a time I thought, along with Richard Parker, that "watchdog" journalism equaled "muckraking," which would lead to "making America better." Indeed, when Richard recruited me to help him with Motherjones magazine in the mid-’70’s, it was because we … Read more

Response: What About Corporate Crime?

By The Economic Sector March 15, 1998

Richard Parker’s paper is an insightful, scholarly and valuable overview. But his analysis of contemporary watchdog economics journalism and his recommendations trouble this long-time reporter. Consider these quotes: "It seems malign" to insist "that we suffer from too little information … Read more

Response: Help Is Available

By The Economic Sector March 15, 1998

I start with a point from Richard Parker’s discussion of needed improvements in journalism education and apply it more broadly. Parker argues that "fundamental democratic political concerns" should provide the context in which business and economics are taught to journalism … Read more

State & Local Governments

National Security

Nonprofits

Response: Document Activities

By Nonprofits March 15, 1998

When newspapers start believing what they are told, there is no surer way to cheat a reader. Good reporters never take a politician’s word, but verify claims instead. Reporters know that even the most civic-minded corporate CEO’s work for stockholders, … Read more

Response: Check on Creative Accounting

By Nonprofits March 15, 1998

Americans are the most generous people in the world, donating more to charity each year than the gross national products of many countries—some $120 billion, all told. As George Rodrigue argues convincingly, the media has done less than it could … Read more

Response: It’s Easier to Be Passive

By Nonprofits March 15, 1998

When I was teaching journalism—communication, as most educators prefer nowadays—the authors of a widely used introductory textbook insisted that part of the media’s mission is the "transference of culture." Meaning, perpetuating the mores, habits, etc., good and bad, that bind … Read more

Response: Avoid Close Relations

By Nonprofits March 15, 1998

The local head of a nationally recognized charity earns nearly $200,000 a year, travels the globe at the nonprofit’s expense and receives a new car of the model of his choice every other year from his board of directors. A … Read more

Masthead

Publisher
Bill Kovach
Editor
Robert H. Phelps
Assistant Editor
Lois Fiore
Editorial Assistant
Molly Marsh
Technology Editor
Lewis Clapp
Design Editor
Deborah Smiley
Business Manager
Sarah Goldstein
Cover Story
Copyright www.arttoday.com

Nieman Reports issue archive