Tag Archives: general mcchrystal

E&P: US military officials will now need permission for press interviews

According to a piece in Editor & Publisher, defence secretary Robert Gates has has demanded that military officials must now get clearance from the Pentagon for press interviews.

Gates allegedly sent a memo ordering military and civilian personnel across the globe to first gain permission before sharing stories with the media, which would prevent a repeat of the General Stanley McChrystal affair.

The order, issued by Gates on Friday in a brief memo to military and civilian personnel worldwide and effective immediately, tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back.

The order has been in the works since long before Gen. Stanley McChrystal stunned his bosses with criticism and complaints in a Rolling Stone article that his superiors did not know was coming.

Read the full post here…

‘The state of the journalistic art’: In defence of Rolling Stone’s Gen. McChrystal reporter

The furore following Rolling Stone’s General McChrystal feature doesn’t look like calming down any time soon.

Eric Alterman, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress has put together a great post calling into question some of the criticisms of RS reporter Michael Hastings.

Reporter after reporter has complained that by accurately reporting what McChyrstal and his aides said in explicitly on-the-record conversations to a reporter with a tape recorder and/or notepad in his hand, Hastings has violated the tenets of professional journalism.

One comment he refers to was from David Brooks, opinion columnist for the New York Times, who called Hastings a product of the “culture of exposure”:

But McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter. And this reporter, being a product of the culture of exposure, made the kvetching the center of his magazine profile.

By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.

But in Alterman’s view, the feature was the epitome of quality journalism.

(…) an almost picture-perfect example of skillful interviewing, smooth narrative writing, extremely exhaustive research, and finally (and perhaps rarest) thoughtful contextualizing of extremely complicated material. I recommend it to all journalism professors as an example of the state of the journalistic art.

Read the full post here…

‘The imperatives of the news cycle’: A licence to steal?

Last week we highlighted some of the criticism being directed at Rolling Stone magazine for its decision to hold off publishing the now notorious General McChrystal article online.

The magazine’s hold-for-the-newsstand tactic led Time.com and Politico to make full PDF copies of the printed article available through their websites – copies which were not provided directly by Rolling Stone, as was first thought, but by third parties.

In the wake of Rolling Stone’s much-derided decision, New York Times’ Media Equation blogger David Carr turns his attention to the behaviour of Time.com and Politico, which later linked back to Rolling Stone’s website when the magazine finally published online.

Publishing a PDF of somebody else’s work is the exact opposite of fair use: these sites engaged in a replication of a static electronic document with no links to the publication that took the risk, commissioned the work and came up with a story that tilted the national conversation. The technical, legal term for what they did is, um, stealing.

Jim VandeHei, executive editor and a founder of Politico, defended the site’s move by claiming that “the imperatives of the news cycle superseded questions of custody”.

Full story at this link…

Rolling Stone under fire for mishandling of General McChrystal scoop

Rolling Stone has come in for a fair amount of flak from media commentators for the way it handled its General McChrystal scoop. It’s a very big scoop, the fallout from the story has seen McChrystal, who was US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, sacked by President Obama. And yet the magazine decided to hold back the story for its print edition, aiming instead to generate buzz online and direct the money to the newsstands.

Buzz successfully generated (as Roy Greenslade reports, the New York Times has led with the story since it broke, as have many other outlets), readers who logged onto the Rolling Stone site couldn’t access the article. In fact, the story was nowhere to be seen.”It is one of the best pieces of reportage I’ve ever read. In these digital days, how could Rolling Stone ever imagine it could keep such an agenda-setting story to print alone?” writes Greenslade.

The story is still not available in print, it hits the newsstands tomorrow. “Clearly, competitors can’t wait until Friday to pick up a copy, especially when McChrystal has already been summoned to the White House,” wrote former Politico staffer Michael Calderone on his Yahoo! blog that day. They didn’t need to wait though. Rolling Stone had provided advance copies to Associated Press and others as part of its buzz-generating exercise, and in an unauthorised move Politico made the full text available for download from their site hours before Rolling Stone conceded and published it online.

The story eventually went up on the Rolling Stone website at around 11:00am ET, the following (Tuesday) morning.

If you are a news outlet looking to break a big story in a similar way, Megan Carpentier’s TPM Livewire article includes a step-by-step guide. Some of the key points:

  • Fail to publish even excerpts of the story on your own website, figuring that your promotion of the story will cause people to go out and buy the magazine.
  • Go to bed and sleep like a baby after the story hits.
  • Wake up to find out that Politico has published a reprint of the story you gave them, since you weren’t smart enough to put the story on your own site and despite the intellectual property violation.