If you’re not following Dan Froomkin at Press Watch, you should be.
We vent a lot about the evils of the press here at Balloon Juice. But there are critics out there who have been advocating practices that speak to our concerns.
Now that Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron has announced his retirement, Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine stepped down in December, and (we can hope) New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet is getting ready to leave, Froomkin offers, free of charge, the script of a talk to the newsroom from their replacements.
It’s chock full of goodies that most of us here can approve. Here’s a sampling:
Effective today, you are no longer political reporters (and editors); you are government reporters (and editors). That’s an important distinction, because it frees you to cover what is happening in Washington in the context of whether it is serving the people well, rather than which party is winning.
The most important lesson of the Bush/Cheney years is that we should never assume government officials are telling us the truth, especially when it comes to matters involving war and national security.
Here’s how we’re going to start: I want each of you to write a “beat note,” in which you describe at a high level what you see happening on your beat, what major questions you’re trying to answer, who the key players are, who seems to be operating in good faith and bad faith, what pressures they are under, and what you think the biggest challenges are ahead. Then we’ll publish them.
We too often think of whiteness as neutral. What we have all witnessed so vividly in the last four years is what nonwhite people have experienced for decades: that it is not. Whiteness can no longer be invisible in this newsroom. It must be acknowledged, studied and questioned. Non-white voices must be raised up and valued.
From now on, I’m the bad cop when it comes to dishy sources who want to talk to you anonymously. When you tell your sources “my boss won’t let me quote you unless you speak to me on the record,” that’s me.
And a lot more. As they say, read the whole thing.