THIS IS one I’ll be discussing in the classroom. N.P.R.’s All Things Considered broadcast a very strong piece on Friday about wartime coverage and reporters’ privilege, prompted of course by the Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone profile which served to unseat Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan. What is on and off the record when it comes to access? In a moment when the debate over who is protected by shield laws for protecting sources — bloggers vs. staff writers and stringers– this has been a turned-up debate as “the rules” of journalism are being tested.
Here’s a taste:
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
The “Rolling Stone” article that wound up toppling General Stanley McChrystal’s military career has sparked a roiling debate in journalism circles about access and what exactly constitutes on and off the record exchanges.
The “Rolling Stone” reporter Michael Hastings threw gasoline on the fire when he accused other war reporters of long ignoring the general’s rather dim view of the Obama security team, and instead lavishing him with generally positive coverage.
Some high-profile reporters took exception, including The New York Times columnist David Brooke, a frequent guest on this program and Lara Logan of CBS.
Ms. LARA LOGAN (Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, CBS News): The question is really is what General McChrystal and his aides are doing so egregious that they deserved to – I mean to end a career like McChrystal’s? When Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.
NORRIS: Logan and others say Hastings violated wartime journalist code by focusing on the McChrystal team’s salty repartee, instead of the steely challenges they face.
The piece — the rest here — goes on to question what part of this is important for the public to know — just the “steely challenges” of the wartime theater or the meta-story of the “steely challenges” of those moving the pieces?