PR updates: NPR, Stanford Review, WNYC, plus NYT Mag

By James Fallows

- On the Media interview with Bob Garfield, here, about the media-politics of health care reform. Back in 1995, I wrote this Atlantic article about the way the Clinton health-care proposal fell apart -- including the damaging role played by a hugely misleading article by Elizabeth "Betsy" McCaughey. Interview covers whether it could happen again.

- Online Q-and-A with the Stanford Review's Bellum project, here.

- Interview last week about China with Brian Lehrer of WNYC, here. These all for the record.

Also for the record, let me join others congratulating the Atlantic's Megan McArdle for what she has reported about Edmund Andrews' gripping account of his descent into deadbeat hell.

Having had some experience with writing confessional, "here's a mistake I made, and what I learned from it" articles, I understand the fundamental premise of the tell-all bargain. You're asking for the reader's trust and, if not forgiveness or respect, at least forbearance because of your brave candor in facing unflattering truths. But in those tell-all circumstances, you really do have to tell it all. There would ordinarily be no reason whatsoever for Andrews to embarrass his wife by talking about her past financial problems (two declarations of bankruptcy) -- unless he undertook to write a warts-and-all book about how his household got into financial trouble. This is also connected to the first item, above, about the health care debate. For all the mixed effects of the internet on mainstream journalism, there is a fast-feedback loop now that can correct errors that would otherwise have stood.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2009/05/pr-updates-npr-stanford-review-wnyc-plus-nyt-mag/18163/