My father was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Detroit riots in 1967. He then went on to teach journalism at Wayne State University in Detroit until the 1990’s.
He often said that Watergate really altered the way young people viewed their journalistic goals. Prior to that, journalism was mostly learned on-the-job, started by writing obits, and focused on who-what-where-when-why and how. Afterward, it became a glamor job in which “changing the world” and “unmasking corruption (usually of GOP/conservative types)” became the job description.
James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles have become the Woodward and Bernstein of this new generation. They have uncovered the criminal enterprise that is ACORN. Our young people are really sophisticated in the use of the new media and new technologies. I can only hope in their enthusiasm to “speak truth to power”, they are more even-handed in their approach and stick to the facts. American are longing to hear the full story, no matter who generates it.
I can only think the pendulum has swung back to on-the-job learning, street savvy, and the 5 W’s.
I think my dad, Stanley R. Putnam Jr., would be really proud of O’Keefe and Giles. I know I am. Though he passed away 10 years ago, it is good to see that what he taught about how to do journalism properly still lives with these two young Americans.