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New York Times Writer Ross Douthat Endorses Pulitzer Nom For Enquirer, Is Less Fond Of Internet Reporting

ross_douthat_2.22.10.jpgBack in January, we reported that The National Enquirer planned to submit its name to the Pulitzer Prize committee for its breaking coverage of former presidential candidate John Edwards‘ extra-marital affair and resulting child.

The decision raised more than a few pens and eyebrows among mainstream media types and resulted in executive editor Barry Levine deflecting The Washington Post’s media reporter Howard Kurtz’s questions concerning the publication’s legitimacy as a candidate and its history of paying for information.

One media figure who is doggedly defending the Enquirer’s bid, however, is The New York Times contributer Ross Douthat. And not solely because he thinks internet reporting is “lousy.”


The conservative contributer maintains that, while valuable when it comes to dishing out gossip, The Internet remains “lousy at the dogged work of transforming rumor into news” and points out that this ever-churning gossip machine will continue to spit out all sorts of salacious items (the Jolie-Pitts are given as an example) for masses hungry for bread / and or circuses.

Douthat argues that, unlike the teary confessions, morbid tell-alls and heavily-orchestrated press conferences favored by celebrities who have fallen from grace, the dalliances and failings of politicians such as Edwards hold real impact for the American people and their wallets. Douthat also takes the opportunity to point out that The New York Times just so happened to nab a Pulitzer last year for its coverage of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

Not mentioned, however, is the resources established print publications such as the Enquirer have at their disposal, from anonymous contacts in places both high (Washing DC) and low (Washington DC), to the monetary means to reimburse such contacts for their information, to a sizable staff of reporters ready to attack a story from all sides.

We’d be interested in hearing your take on Douthat’s points: Is there a marked difference between gossip and news when its comes to the actions of politicians? Is internet reporting inherently flawed when it comes to reporting breaking news on topics other than fallen golf idols and celebrity couples?

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