From Muckrakers To Buckrakers

Legendary Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl
Bernstein just made journalistic history with the $5.5 million sale
of their Watergate papers to the University of Texas at Austin.
What?s troubling about the sale, argues former George
magazine editor Richard Blow in a commentary on
TomPaine.com, is not its record price tag. It?s the fact
that the pair chose to charge anything at all. While many book
authors have long charged handsome sums for their papers and
personal libraries, news reporters have traditionally shunned the
practice. ?That?s why Walter Cronkite, Harry Reasoner, and Andy
Rooney all donated their papers to the University of Texas,? writes
Blow. ?They respected the tradition that says those who traffic in
information can support its dissemination by donating their papers
to universities.? Ironically, Blow predicts, this precedent will
make journalists more secretive about their information, and lead
to greater corporate influence in the newsroom, as employers try to
cash in doubly on their reporters? work. The sale of the
?Woodstein? collection ?may make them richer, [but] it doesn?t
enrich the profession, or the regard in which the public holds
it.?
?Leif Utne

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Muckrakers to Buckrakers

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