Interesting discussion by Campbell Brown and another journalist on CNN the other night. They played the audio recorded by a blogger of former president Clinton lashing out against a “slimy” reporter who did an unfavorable report on the former president in Vanity Fair. The journalists were complaining about this because Clinton has refused to allow any journalist access to him recently on the campaign trail, including refusing to allow any journalists on the rope line. The blogger was on the rope line with the hidden tape recorder. Clinton assumed that she was a fan looking for a handshake, especially when she asked what he thought of the “hatchet job” in Vanity Fair. That’s when Clinton launched his tirade.
The CNN journalists were unhappy that they couldn’t get that juicy audio–because as journalists they were not allowed near. The questioned the ethics of the blogger in recording that audio and pretending to be a common citizen. Now wait just a minute here. Ethics? Would they have hidden a tape recorder and considered it ethical? I think so. Their only real complaint was that they as journalists were being treated differently than a blogger–who, by implication, they think should be treated as a journalist. Of course, most of the time those in mainstream media wouldn’t even come close to considering bloggers to be journalists. So, which way is it? Are bloggers journalists or not?
The other thing I found interesting is their comments on how this represents the new state of news coverage. They sort of sighed in a resigned way, that this is what things have come to and the likes of President Clinton will just have to get used to it. Indeed, and so will the “journalists.” The age of transparency is here. 300 million citizen journalists. If they don’t have tape recorders they certainly have cell phones with cameras. The term “off the record” is about to disappear from the lexicon. How can there be such a thing in an always visible, always recordable world?