Personal Democracy Forum ended up being perfectly timed to get the newly de-WaPoed Dan Froomkin together with Jay Rosen to talk about accountability journalism. And since we’ve been harping this story, I thought I’d do a real liveblog. With David Corn in the room and Froomkin around, it feels like old times!!
Jay: Why we’re here, then some questions for 25 minutes. Froomkin was WH Watch for WP.com. Circumstances of departure subject of controversy in blogosphere and newsosphere. The Old Guard won at the WaPo. The print guys. The people from the WaPo newspaper, Political reporters on national staff. When Dan came on WaPo.com, run by Brady. Post lived by divided sovereignty. People worked for website, people worked for newspaper. In my view, served Post well, bc Brady didn’t need permission to put comments on stories, put feature on post on who was blogging story. Now, different era.
Jay: Why no longer under contract.
Froomkin: Some of you represent some of the people who responded with outpouring at my departure. Jay mostly right. Specifics are least interesting part of the story. What is interesting is it has elements of morality play. They told me not working any more. Traffic down. Down compared to what? During last year or two, column most popular feature on website. It was down from that, but still pretty good. Switch from column format to blog format, readers were furious. Bush Obama, different presence, different themes. Some disagreements about format and content. Not exciting with possible exception of pressure to stop doing media criticism. I’ve always felt media criticism integral part of what I was doing. For me to not talk about coverage of White House. Money issue. As a contractor I was a particularly easy line item to scratch out.
Dan: None would have happened or mattered if WaPo thought it had value. What explains delta between readers who thought it was valuable and WaPo who thought it didn’t. I was contractor. Little contact with Post institutionally. When Debbie HOwell thing happened, I only found out an hour and half before deadline. Tensions Jay and I have been writing about.
Jay: Last column, wrote, when I look back, I think of the lies. But lies not a theme of coverage of Bush years. Hard to get reporters in WH press corps to talk about lies. Why so hard to register lies?