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Sunday, June 21, 2009

MSM reporter David Rohde escapes Taliban

David Rohde, who while at the Christian Science Monitor was one of the first journalists to expose the Serb massacre of 8000 Muslim men at Srebrenica, has escaped from seven months of captivity by the Taliban along with a colleague, Tahir Ludin. His current employer, the New York Times, kept his capture pretty much under wraps all this time, although obviously a lot of people--especially journalists--knew all about it.

Rohde is a sterling example of the fact that despite the burgeoning and often blathering Blogosphere, Twittersphere, etc., we still need the "Mainstream Media" to keep us informed; and indeed there is no real substitute for it, not "citizen journalism" nor bloggers who usually rely on the MSM for their facts at the same time they are criticizing it.

In other words, we need news organizations with budgets big enough to support the kind of intrepid and courageous reporting that Rohde and his colleagues do every day. The big question is where those budgets are going to come from. If corporate America can't provide them--and perhaps that ultimately is just as well, because one valid criticism of the MSM is its corporate biases--then We the People need to do so ourselves. One very interesting idea that has been floated is to fund news organizations through endowments, which could be one element in a mix of many solutions (another encouraging development was the recent decision of Associated Press to begin distributing investigative reports by nonprofit outfits such as ProPublica.)

So yes, criticize the MSM all you want, but until we have bloggers with the budgets and the guts of reporters like David Rohde, it is all talk (or keystrokes) and little action.

Photo: David Rohde discusses how he reported the series of stories about suspected mass graves in Bosnia during Prof. Anne Nelson's International Reporting Class at Columbia University. Credit: Ian Wilhelm.

Another story we need the MSM to do for us. In today's Times, an investigation into botched prostrate cancer treatments at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Obama and the fly. Now, there's a man who is in control--even of nature as it buzzes around him. As critical as I am of Obama about a number of things, there is no escaping the fact that we now have one of the most intelligent, interesting, and physically alert presidents in U.S. history, and it is hard not to marvel at it (and perhaps even wonder if Americans really deserve him, given how incredibly stupid they are capable of being.)

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