Worth a read: this brief article by Dan Zak at The Washington Post Woodward and Bernstein: Could the Web generation uncover a Watergate-type scandal? discussing how a ubiquitous internet has so seized the world-view of even bright people that they think journalistic ‘sleuthing’ can be done online and that no corrupt power can but kneel before the web.
“The truth of what goes on is not on the Internet. [The Internet] can supplement. It can help advance. But the truth resides with people. Human sources.”
Human sources — indeed. And, as the Watergate scandal and revelations about ‘Deep Throat’ Mark Felt proved, those human sources can have their own agenda too.
Dan Zak’s article is drenched in, if not contempt, what sounds like generation-gap-esque disdain for the “gabby, gray-haired grand pooh-bahs of journalism” but he makes a good point:
If Watergate happened today, it would probably involve a hacking, not a burglary.
He’s right about that. Or a LEAK.
Consider Manning/Assange/Wikileaks — today’s version of Daniel Elsberg and associated news publishers of the time. Same formula, different scale and methodology.
The power of the web and ease of ‘data’ copying and transmission are two-edged swords in the hands of the reporters and the reported … and whistle-blowers.
Lamenting the budget-constrained loss of investigative reporting doesn’t change the fact that ‘stories’ have always been about people, and power, and how they interact. From Plutarch to Pilger.
Our ‘connected world’ and the fact that anyone can call up your credit-rating, criminal history, satellite pictures of your home, etc hasn’t changed that.