I emailed my dad (a reporter) about our conversation yesterday concerning media involvement and responsibility in reporting on matters like the war and sent him the link to the New Yorker article and this is what he said.
Good question. In my experience, the top reporters are devoted to telling the truth about war. Not just the facts, but the truth, with a capital T. Of course, there’s lots of disagreement over what is true about war, but I suspect you would find a lot more examples of the military either bending the facts or just plain lying (Pfc. Jessica Lynch story is one example) than you would find from mainstream reporters. I’m thinking of people like Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, and this guy too, Nicholas Schmidle. (Who is a JMU grad by the way)
But what he does in this New Yorker piece is use a narrative style, with fewer attributions, that does require the reader to essentially trust him. I’m skeptical too, when writers use this approach. Magazines love it because it makes for a more compelling read. He can kind of get away with this because the story is being done months after the event, and he’s obviously got some good sources. And he never outright says that he talked to the Navy seals, he just refers to “their recollections – on which this account is based”. Okay. But I don’t really like this style of writing. I think Schmidle did a great job and I trust him, I just don’t like being asked.
But The New Yorker is a top publication and I have no doubt this article was rigorously fact-checked.
Hope this is useful – I’m glad you asked your reporter parents