A new edge on journalism?

If you didn't read the Washington Post story yesterday on D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and how his campaign unraveled in the months leading up to yesterday's primary loss that cost him his seat, you must. Post reporters Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman do a superb job of placing the reader inside the rooms where key decisions (and non-decisions) were made by the mayor that ultimately cost him his seat.

Yet what most amazed me about the story was the day it ran — less than 24 hours following Election Day. In a journalistic-dexterous way, these two reporters went around town interviewing the innermost circles of aides and confidants to the mayor to find out "what happened" before it happened. Reading the polls and political tea leaves, Post editors gambled that Chairman Vincent Gray would best his opponent. So beginning from that end, the reporters worked back to uncover how and what went wrong. That's impressive, folks.

As you know, I'm not high on the mainstream media, and certainly not The Washington Post. After all, the paper did endorse Fenty — enthusiastically.

But this piece could mark a new edge on journalism — a turning of the corner that helps reposition the print medium back on top, or at least affirm its rightful place in the press pantheon. I don't believe I exaggerate the point here. Think about it: We have another historic election rapidly approaching, with entire congressional chambers hinging on a few seats changing hands. If reporters in those districts could emulate similar actions and behaviors, what a fascinating insight it could reveal, not just to readers, but to how campaigns are run in the future.

The cynic would cry sour grapes, choosing to view this construct through one lens. That the Post only secured such interviews because of a few disgruntled Fenty staffers who were miffed because the mayor chose not to listen to them, so they took their story to the paper in a classic CYA exercise. I'm not that cynical. Besides, it's good journalism either way. And a far cry from the false pretenses of a Rolling Stone reporter riding shotgun in Humvees with Army generals who get a little loose with the lips, and this guy laps it up like milk from a saucer.


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