You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Reed It

I'm tired of all the talk (just check out your average day of doleful chat on Romenesko) about how newspapers have outlived their day. If you want to know what service newspapers perform for the rest of us, just read Dana Priest and Anne Hull's Pulitzer-worthy series on the lack of proper follow-up care for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. The series is also a rallying cry for those who think reporters should be encouraged to spend more time on enterprise reporting (Priest and Hull spent four months sneaking in and out of Walter Reed) and less on dailies that are already on CNN anyway and (yes, I realize the irony of saying this on The Plank) on blogging and other forms of insta-journalism.

The stories, as Priest and Hull ably demonstrate, are out there. Shameful stories--of how recruiters "overlook" previous mental health problems only to hold them against shell-shocked vets trying to get disability assistance; of how injured soldiers are sent to recover in mold-and-vermin infested rooms; of how heavily-medicated vets at one facility are provided with a full bar but not a single counselor or psychologist. And, god forbid, you were in one of the prosaic workplace accidents that is all too common in war but doesn't make for good political fodder when you come home...

But stories like these take time and patience and institutional support to get. And beyond the political and moral lessons of the series there's a journalistic one as well. We need to stop thinking about the arms race of speed and time and start thinking a little harder about the stories we are going to be ashamed someday not to have found and told.

--Katherine Marsh