TNC Takes Goldblog to the Woodshed

Well, Ta-Nehisi takes Goldblog to the woodshed, but gently, because Ta-Nehisi is too nice a guy for that woodshed business. But he does disagree with my (later modified) understanding of the Dave Weigel controversy:

"...What people need to remember here, is this--whatever your take on Dave's emails, Dave is--quite literally--a reporter. I got the sense reading Jeff's posts that most of the people he talked to had never actually read Dave's work, so much as they saw "fallen high profile blogger," and flush with envy, reached for the can of Schadenfreude. And then the phone. There is something much deeper at work here, something about the decline of privilege. This isn't about the future of journalism. This is about people who don't want to have to compete, or be held accountable for the falsehoods they write.

It's always a problem when you have to state your affection for someone you're blogging about--but I have great affection for Jeff. That's the personal side--the side that makes this a very uncomfortable post. But professionally, I have great respect for him as a reporter. I feel the same way about Dave Weigel. No blogger better, and more routinely, defied the stereotype of simply opining. Dave traveled. Dave worked the phones. And Dave wrote stories.

And he isn't alone. Old schoolers have long depended on a wall to separate and elevate themselves above the blogs--The blogs comment on the stories. We actually make the stories. Would that it were so easy. Things are changing. The wall is coming down.

I don't necessarily agree that the wall is coming down quite yet -- there is no blogger who is the equivalent of the New York Times' Dexter Filkins -- and I don't necessarily agree with Andrew Sullivan's binary understanding of our changing profession (He wrote that "There is a war going on within American journalism. All I can say is that I have learned more from Dave Weigel's brilliant, obsessive, accurate and first-hand reporting - yes, old-fashioned, grass-roots reporting - on the conservative movement than I ever have from the pompous dinosaur "journalists" at the WaPo). I think we can learn from both, and we do learn from both.

Anyway, I'm not writing this to be a thumbsucker about the future of the press. After Ta-Nehisi, and Ambinder (and Ross Douthat, for that matter) pointed out that I was wrong about Weigel's reporting, I realized that, yes, I was wrong. Also, I subsequently had a very interesting and illuminating conversation with Weigel about this brouhaha, and, the conversation swayed me to believe -- as did his now-posted apology/explanation on Big Journalism -- that Weigel is a good reporter who did something boneheaded. I still don't understand the trash-talk on JournoList -- and I certainly don't understand how a smart guy like Dave Weigel could believe that a listserv of 400 bloggers and journalists (!) could possibly be off-the-record in any meaningful way -- but I was wrong to characterize him the way I did.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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