As one of the longtime writers around here who is not named Hamsher, I have seen FDL grow and morph and change a lot. Some of the landmarks for these changes have been subtle and hidden, but others are right out front for everyone to see. Moving from Blogspot to WordPress was huge in a technical sense, and the FDL coverage of the Scooter Libby trial was at least as huge in a journalistic sense.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Back in 2007, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen noted how FDL’s coverage of the Libby trial taught the mainstream media what they apparently had forgotten how to do:
FDL had more people [than the traditional media outlets] on the story (six contributors, all housed together). They cared more about documenting every turn. They knew more about the case because they had been writing about it for longer, and they didn’t want to disappoint their supporters.
But wait a minute: bloggers do views, not news, right? They’re like a giant op-ed page, but without decorum. Bloggers are parasitic on reporting that originates elsewhere. Bloggers have an ax to grind, so their reports aren’t going to be reliable. Besides, bloggers don’t do reporting, really. Their trade is opinion (“…and don’t get me wrong, I think that’s great.”) These ideas are “fixed” points for a lot of journalists. And the example of Firedoglake at the Libby trial disconfirms them all.
It was the most basic kind of journalism imaginable. You’re my eyes and ears, Christy. Tell me what happened today. When it came time to interpret, to get inside the heads of the key actors, they rose to that challenge too.
After praising FDL and calling out the traditional media, Rosen gazed into his crystal ball and pulled out what in retrospect (remember, this was 2007!) is a stunner of a prediction (emphasis added), as he criticized anti-blogger, old-school journalists:
They [FDL] also recorded more of the event in “just the facts” style than the neutrals in the establishment press. So who’s the drudge of what is news? I’m just advising Newsroom Joe and Jill: make room for FDL in your own ideas about what’s coming on, news-wise. Don’t let your own formula (blog=opinion) fake you out. A conspiracy of the like minded to find out what happened when the national news media isn’t inclined to tell us might be way more practical than you think.
If I understand your church, there’s nothing more sacred in it than good old fashioned shoe leather reporting— being there, asking questions and taking notes, scrambling to get down what happened. And yet here are these sinners—Atrios calls them the Dirty F__king Hippies—who walk off the jetways and do just that, the basic reporting, better than the people to whom it is religion. Wild month for the church, right?
When you fast forward to 2011, it sure looks like Rosen was onto something, doesn’t it?
Since then, FDL has taken on all kinds of other things, including liveblogging the Prop 8 trial, standing up for the rule of law when it comes to foreclosure fraud and Bradley Manning, and tracking the events in the middle east and north Africa. No matter what the issue, the same emphasis on not just reporting but interpreting as well has come through.
- Accurately and honestly reporting what is going on.
- Demanding accountability for wrongdoing.
- Calling out giveaways for the rich few at the expense of the many poor.
- Pushing for remedies that help to make things better.
- Challenging not only opponents but allies.
FDL may have coined the term “Veal Pen,” but we sure don’t live in one.
If you like “what’s coming on, news-wise” you might click over to the FDL membership program page and sign up if you haven’t already done so. (If you have already done so, many thanks!)
And I have a feeling that a couple of years from now, I’ll be looking back at this membership drive and saying “That’s another big turning point — look at what FDL has been doing since then!”
Wouldn’t you like to be able to take a bow and say “I helped make it happen”? It’s just a click away.