Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Journalism is becoming more of a real-time dialogue, and less of a set-piece monologue. This can be disconcerting, but it can also facilitate better reporting.
Here's what I mean.
I filed a daily newspaper story about efforts to restore California's San Joaquin River, at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/michael_doyle/story/53753.html. Then I went home, done for the week. Or so I thought.
Once home, I found an e-mailed complaint from a smart California water lobbyist who said my story was one-sided. Turns out, the DC bureau had already posted the story online, 12 hours before it was to appear in print. Weirdly, I had scooped myself!
The lobbyist said I should have tried harder to get opposing viewpoints into the story. I took his comment to heart, got the cell phone number for one of his clients, conducted a quick interview and filed additional material to even out the version of the story slated for print. In other words, expanding that old cliche, we are now only writing the first draft of the first draft of history...

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