CJR's Greg Marx actually adds something to the post-Weigel debate. What he notes is that Ezra Klein, Dave Weigel and Dan Froomkin were and are all bloggers, whose work inevitably involves more of their raw humanity, warts and all, than that of traditional reporters. They develop an intimacy with readers and an increasing degree of candor and personal transparency in their writing. And once a writer has set those parameters, his private life will soon follow - and he or she will become part of the story.
In ten years of doing this, I have certainly learned the amazing professional advantages and personal costs of this model. For the readers, though, I think it's almost all positive. The truth is: reporters are human beings, and I think that being more candid about who we are and where we come from allows readers more lee-way to judge our work. They can see for themselves if they think we're off-base. They can note that Dave's personality and biases obviously affect his writing - and make allowances. In a blog, this helps give the blogger ore credibility and durability and interest. But squeezed into a corporate journalist model without the kind of cool, hands-off stewardship of, say, James Bennet, this can clash with previous models. Wapo's failure was in not sticking with this and in not being prepared to allow the new model to work alongside the old - through the inevitable bumps and skids on the journey. Marx:
Institutions like the Post have both an opportunity and an obligation to take advantage of what this new model offersto find a way to, as Tkacik writes, “combine the best of both.” Instead, at the first sign of trouble, they cut Weigel loose. And rather than thinking about how it might have made this experiment workfor example, by making clear to readers this was an experiment in a new form, or by providing support from an editor who could help Weigel navigate the shifting terrainthe Post seems determined to draw the wrong conclusions.
Amen. CJR's cover-story by former Jezebel blogger, Moe Tkacik, whom Marx cites, is a brilliant overview of the new forms of journalism we are experimenting with. Her description of being a professional phone-sex worker - and its strange parallels with being a journalist - is pay-off enough (and great grist for the illustration above).