Where Are The Memos? (Updated)

Why is it that news sites refuse to publish the documents upon which they report? I mean, even Glenn Greenwald produced the emails he was mischaracterizing. Why can’t The Washington Post do the same with the infamous “snowflake memos” it has managed to obtain? If it did so, it would answer questions such as those from Ann Althouse (HT: Instapundit):

Is the WaPo “running a story based off of selective quotations and gross mischaracterizations from a handful of memos — carefully picked from the some 20,000 written while Rumsfeld served as Secretary”? Or does this story “shed light on [the] brusque management style” of “a defense secretary disdainful of media criticism and driven to reshape public opinion of the Iraq war”?

This is most frustrating since, given today’s technology, providing access to source materials is as easy as creating a hyperlink and reserving a little space on a server. Shifting more and more content away from dead-tree vehicles to online platforms was a great move, but that was just the first step. The MSM needs to produce content in a manner more suitable to the new medium — i.e. provide hyperlinks, source material, and continuously updated content. It’s really not that hard, but for some reason the industry just isn’t catching on.

The MSM approach to online content reminds in a way of the first movies produced. Before the silver screen, entertainers performed on a stage with (mostly) static scenery. Each scene focused on one setting, with a few characters. The first movies were little more than film reproductions of these stage shows. Jump cuts, panning shots, and other techniques that we pretty much take for granted were not in the repertoire of any Hollywood directors back then. At least not until D.W. Griffiths’ The Birth of A Nation (which is why that notoriously racist work is still considered one of the most important movies of all time). Ever since then, the endless possibilities for telling a story through film have been explored and enjoyed.

In my view, the MSM needs to take the same leap into the New Media world or risks being relegated to the dust bin of history along with silent films.

UPDATE ***: Glenn Reynolds links (Welcome Instapunditeers!) and answers the question of why the WaPo doesn’t link the memos: Because then people could make up their own minds. Bingo. ***

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3 Responses to “Where Are The Memos? (Updated)”

  1. on 01 Nov 2007 at 4:19 pm Keith_Indy

    Very valid criticism…

    I found this part of the piece puzzling…

    “shed light on [the] brusque management style”

    One need only look at a few of the books on Rumsfeld, especially “The Rumsfeld Way: Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick,” to find countless examples of his brusque management style. It’s not like it was a secret, or startling discovery. So, if this is the reason for publishing this piece, it’s old news.

  2. on 01 Nov 2007 at 7:07 pm MichaelW

    Very valid criticism…

    I definitely had an answer in mind to my question about why the memos aren’t published or linked (which Glenn nailed). What I didn’t say, but should have, is that I really do consider this sort of post to be constructive criticism.

    One of the MSM’s major problems right now is a lack of credibility. Linking to source material is a way to bolster credibility, and in fact is one of the criteria for deciding whether a blogger is reliable or not — i.e. of the source material doesn’t match the post linking it, the blogger loses credibility. I would think that the MSM would want to take advantage of that potential credibility boost, but I guess their more interested in the information gatekeeper role.

    Unfortunately for them, the wall separating people from information has been blown away.

  3. on 01 Nov 2007 at 9:46 pm tao9

    The cherries are out early this year in DC. Or late. Or always.

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