My favorite reading includes corrections. Everyone errs. Some admit it and correct their errors. Graphs, maps and percentages figure prominently in corrections, but names of people and places most often seem to trip us up. Get a name wrong, and it becomes journalism history if not local legend. Unless it's corrected, others reporters may rely on that spelling and get into all kinds of trouble.
In the Good Old Days, journalists generally held a story if authorities said it could compromise the stakeout, chase or anticipated capture of a suspect. Even if we knew where agents were headed or or stood with them outside a motel where a kidnapper and victim were hidden, we responded with silence. These issues arose again when the 24/7-obsessed news media unthinkingly helped the Times Square bombing suspect almost escape.
This Oscar-nominated documentary looks at the events that compelled Daniel Ellsberg, a former Marine and defense department staffer, to leak the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in an effort to stop what he deemed an unjust Vietnam War. Ellsberg's articulate first-person narration and unique personal history give the film an intimacy and emotional depth lacking in most political/historical documentaries. Grade: A-.
Local journalists aren't exempt from the love/hate generated by the command to compile lists of top stories at the end of each year or decade. More than anything, it's a chance to remind everyone how smart they were when they wrote the first draft of what's become history. But rather than remind you of my failings in the past year or decade, let me suggest what 2010 might hold for the news media.
Let's make this column local local or, as the new conventional wisdom sometimes puts it, hyperlocal: How much would you pay to read The Enquirer online if it quit being free? Or, if the main news section remains free online, which features would you pay for: Op-ed columnists? Tweets? Blogs? Moms? Are you willing to give The Enquirer your credit card and let them nick you for every article you pull from behind the pay-to-read wall? Lots of other dailies are gingerly sticking their toes in the roiled water of paid online content.
However you get your news online, you have an interest in moves by the Associated Press and others to prevent other online sites from using their content without paying. Fittingly, AP plans to use the technology that promotes wide freeloading to a general crackdown. It will tag and track its online content. That should discomfit aggregators and others who use AP stories, summaries or links to draw eyeballs and advertisers without paying or sharing ad revenue.
NBC's show 'The Wanted,' unites a reporter with a former U.S. Navy Seal and a former Army Green Beret in a hunt for fugitive war criminals and terrorists. Dumb. Too many people already see journalists as the enemy to be kidnapped, taken hostage or killed.
There is no unanimity among publishers about the best response to the parasitic relationship with web sites like HuffingtonPost and Google. Some news media enjoy or accept unrelated sites that draw readers with brief summaries and link to their original stories. Meanwhile, papers with significant web traffic are trying to figure out how they can begin (or return to) charging for what readers have learned is free.
Let's call it Flying Pig Flu to honor the birds and hogs that contributed genetic material to the new influenza. Why not? For the news media, finding the right name was the larger crisis. Flying Pig Flu is more politically correct than the Israeli decision to call it "Mexican" flu because observant Jews and Muslims who abstain from pork are offended by "swine" flu.