American Journalism Review on why the Downing Street Memo took so long to be reported:
June/July 2005 issue
Web Special: A Story At Last
How public pressure helped propel the long-ignored Downing Street memo into the news
By Kim Hart
Hart is an AJR editorial assistant.
Foreign news outlets jumped on it, bloggers ate it up and half a dozen liberal Web sites campaigned to get it prominent coverage. But until the past few weeks, the Downing Street memo managed to keep a low profile in the media, getting more attention for being ignored by American journalists than for existing in the first place.
Editors, reporters and producers have been deluged with hundreds--even thousands--of e-mails and phone calls from readers and partisan activists demanding more exposure for the secret memo, which recounts a July 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top aides. The memo, first reported by the London Sunday Times on May 1, reflects the view of Britain's top intelligence official that the Bush administration was intent on going to war in Iraq nearly eight months before doing so, and that the administration was manipulating intelligence information to support that decision.
By now, it is no secret that coverage of the memo was scarce until nearly five weeks after its debut. But the belated media interest raises a larger question about what makes news: Should editors decide what to cover based on their own news judgments, or do they have a responsibility to give their audiences the stories they demand? Even if editors originally choose not to pursue a story, is intense public pressure itself enough to warrant coverage? Or does that come dangerously close to allowing organized pressure to set the news agenda?
On the other hand, does public clamor sometimes force the media to pay attention to legitimate stories it originally underplayed or ignored? In the case of the Downing Street memo, the answer to that question appears to be yes.
Click the link above to read the rest, and decide for yourself if these editors' reasons for NOT reporting on the DSMemo are valid or not. Thanks to MSG for emailing this find!