The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 12, 2013

Gatherer vs. newsmaker

NORMAN — The subject of newsmaker-news gatherer relationships became a national debate when eminent journalist Bob Woodward took body blows from the White House and others when he had the audacity to write that it was President Barack Obama who first put forward the idea of sequesterization.

Woodward said nothing that others hadn’t said, but Obama’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, sent him a now-famous email that warned, “I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Whether or not the email qualifies as a threat, the whole episode has thrown some very interesting light onto the high-stakes journalism played in the rarefied air that Woodward — who became a household name with his Watergate reporting — breathes.

Most reporters and columnists are only rarely “abused,” and only then in comparably extreme cases. But in Washington, we are told, entire divisions of pit bulls are employed to pounce whenever a report surfaces that goes against the desired spin.

The Obama White House received a brushback from the Woodward incident, perhaps justified. Reporters have charged that the Obama administration is particularly aggressive at picking on the messengers of contrary reporting. Then again, insiders also say attacks come with the territory and with every presidential administration.

And, certainly, those of us in the media would be wise not to protest too much at push-back from those we report on. We can take a lesson directly from Woodward, who was once admired enough to have inspired many a journalistic career.

But since the White House flap materialized, he has been roundly ridiculed. Some have called him a has-been who’s lost touch with reality.

There is an important lesson here for all journalists. Public officials are fair game and so, too, are the people who report about them.

— The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Norman should act wisely

    Editor, The Transcript: The fact that the city of Norman sells water for oil/gas drilling (or any other purpose) for less than half what they pay Oklahoma City when buying water, and while Norman residents are on rationing, is an act of ...

    April 18, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • A raise for troopers, but what about others?

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could see an increase in their paychecks during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins in July....

    April 17, 2014

  • Fallin should help residents

    Editor, The Transcript: I see this week that our empty skirt of a governor asked the federal government (small business administration) for much money. She is concerned about the suffering of the business owners in Lexington and Purcell ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014

  • First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Reading between the lines

    Reading is such an improbable idea — a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading — and ...

    April 15, 2014

  • CCFI tackling area’s child abuse problem

    Editor, The Transcript: To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. ...

    April 12, 2014