Access Vs. Scoops And Why It Matters Whether You’re A Staffer Or Freelancer (Or: Score One For ‘The Gig Economy’)
Essentially, he’s arguing (and many others are too) that Hastings could not have gotten the story he did as a staffer.
This observation is predicated on a note from a Politico story about the McChrystal profile that read: “McChrystal…is not known for being media savvy. Hastings…is not well-known within the Defense Department. And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.”
That line was later taken out of the story. (The Politico wouldn’t discuss “editing decisions” with Clint Hendler of the Columbia Journalism Review, who asked about it.)
The suggestion is that a beat reporter would know when he’s being trusted not to reveal back stage behavior. It would never get to the point of “should I publish this damaging but spectacular story or hold it back to preserve my access…?” because the reporter would mentally label what he saw as unusable material. It wouldn’t be a question of “catching” the General and his staff because he would have internalized the difference between “on” time and down time, and this might even be part of his sophistication.
So there you have it. If your freelancing experience is less the set-your-own-hours-FREEEDOM and more the god-are-we-having-hamburger-helper-for-inner-again, there are at least a few people who support your ability to do amazing work.