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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 09:29 AM ET, 10/28/2011

James O’Keefe, proving the worthlessness of deception

A letter from the Erik Wemple Blog to James O’Keefe:

Dear O’Keefe:
You posted some execrable video yesterday. Under the premise that you’d “catch a journalist,” you caught a pair of New York University professors doing their jobs. It’s not clear just what part of the video conveys some public scandal worthy of a surreptitious recording, so perhaps you could explain that part. What is clear is that the video has gotten quite a bit of attention. After it was posted, I and a number of other people commented on the video and took out our reportorial tools to fact-check it. Your record as a shooter of clandestine video seemed to justify the effort. Looking back a day later, it feels like a hollow hustle. ”To Catch a Journalist: Part II,” to judge from its merits, doesn’t even belong in the news cluttersphere. The next time you post something this weak, I’m not playing along. I’m not going to compete with the Poynters and the Politicos and the rest of the media-news industry to grind out some angle on your latest turd. So you gotta do something better than the Sam Stein -Jay Rosen-Clay Shirky model. Have at it. If you’re having trouble gaining traction, maybe you should consider an approach to journalism that doesn’t involve coaxing young people to lie to others as a matter of professional course. Because what you’re starting to demonstrate is that deception is no surer route to good journalism than is honesty. Thanks for reminding the public of that truth.

By  |  09:29 AM ET, 10/28/2011

 
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