Glenn Greenwald: NY Times Has 'Helped to Kill Journalism as a Potent Force for Checking Power'
"[T]he kind of traditional New York Times model...I think has neutered and, in a lot of ways, helped to kill journalism as a potent force for checking power."
So said Glenn Greenwald during an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman Monday (video follows with transcript and commentary):
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank people for bearing with us; the audio is not so great today in this video stream. But lastly, you’ve engaged in this very interesting conversation with Bill Keller of The New York Times, this debate between the two of you, the former executive editor of the Times. Keller began the debate by writing, "We come at journalism from different traditions. I’ve spent a life working at newspapers that put a premium on aggressive but impartial reporting, that expect reporters and editors to keep their opinions to themselves unless they relocate (as I have done) to the pages clearly identified as the home of opinion." He ended, saying, quote, "Embedded in The New York Times's institutional perspective and reporting methodologies are all sorts of quite debatable and subjective political and cultural assumptions about the world. And with some noble exceptions, The Times, by design or otherwise, has long served the interests of the same set of elite and powerful factions. Its reporting is no less ’activist,' subjective or opinion-driven than the new media voices it sometimes condescendingly scorns." Can you comment on that and where you’re going with your new venture?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. And this came out of a New Yorker piece on the reporting that we did at The Guardian that quoted Bill Keller as saying he never would have allowed me, when he was the editor of The New York Times, to take the lead in reporting on these NSA stories, because I had expressed opinions about these topics previously. And so, he and I then had an email exchange about that, and he then offered, quite generously, to have a debate and publish it in his column. And I think it really reflects two very competing and different but strong frames in how journalism is understood: the kind of traditional New York Times model that I think has neutered and, in a lot of ways, helped to kill journalism as a potent force for checking power, and the kind of journalism that I think we intend to do, where it is much more passionate and [inaudible] and intended to be overtly adversarial to those in power. And I think you see the two competing visions in that exchange. And part of what I wanted to do was lay out for people why I think our vision produces better journalism, and to point to some of the really bad journalism that The New York Times has produced over the years—alongside some good stuff—which I think is a byproduct of this sort of obsolete way of thinking.
I'd argue that the Times's model of publishing liberally biased news reports, editorials, and op-eds whilst omitting stories that go counter to its agenda has helped to kill journalism period.
But why quibble?