In Case You Missed Them...

By James Fallows

... let me mention three quite different recent items that all bear on the predicament of journalism. Not the "modern" predicament -- the struggle to stay in business -- but the longer-term issues of trying to represent the "truth."

1) Lane Wallace's very good piece on our site, about why grizzled, "experienced" reporters often miss the biggest stories on their own beats.

2) Jeff Goldberg's long and engrossing New Yorker saga of a Mistah Kurtz-style foreign couple in Africa and how (involving the US press) they may have gone bad.

3) And now, on an entirely different scale, the very powerful and frankly nauseating video released 12 hours ago by the Wikileaks organization that appears to show the casual killing of about a dozen civilians, including two Reuters staffers, by a US helicopter guncrew three years ago in Baghdad. (As Andrew Sullivan previously mentioned.) I can't pretend to know the full truth or circumstances of this. But at face value it is the most damaging documentation of abuse since the Abu Ghraib prison-torture photos. As you watch, imagine the reaction in the US if the people on the ground had been Americans and the people on the machine guns had been Iraqi, Russian, Chinese, or any other nationality. As with Abu Ghraib, and again assuming this is what it seems to be, the temptation will be to blame the operations-level people who were, in this case, chuckling as they mowed people down. That's not where the real responsibility lies.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/04/in-case-you-missed-them/38516/