News next: a journalism teacher's diary

January 12, 2010

‘All governments lie’

Filed under: None — Bernard L. Stein @ 2:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The lead story in Sunday’s New York Times was a stunner. Reporter Nina Bernstein used documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to

show how officials — some still in key positions — used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.

Bernstein, who deserves every prize journalism has to offer for her unrelenting coverage of the detention of immigrants, shows–if a demonstration were needed–the value of the Freedom of Information Act to a democratic society. She also teaches a lesson for reporters with her revelations of the behind-the-scenes scheming of official spokesmen to cover up, stonewall, elide the truth or hide it altogether.

Her story is long, but it needs to be. Note the way The Times builds into the story–in more technologically sophisticated ways than we have available to us–access to the documents themselves, video and a selected archive of past stories.

By the way, the headline is taken from I.F. Stone, one of our nation’s national treasures. I’m not going to hyperlink: if his name isn’t familiar to you, it should be. Do some research.

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