Jay Rosen asks why (scroll down) I used the word "smarter" in a recent posting about the CBS News debacle, in which I said, in part: "It would have been smarter for CBS to thank, not make semi-snide remarks about, the bloggers who raised the important questions about the authenticity of the memos. But you can't have everything."
Like many other people, I wish that CBS would take to heart the grassroots developments in our craft. That would have been wise (and smart).
But I don't think CBS is, today, institutionally capable of truly understanding the value of listening to its audience -- of grasping how much help the audience can be in the journalistic process. The network's offhanded dismissal of the grassroots continues even now. (I know there are individual people at CBS who do get it. But they are not running things.) That said, it would have been at least tactically smart for CBS to have acknowledged the grassroots component of this debacle. Common-sense PR should have made this obvious. Is this a cynical comment on my part? I guess so, but I hate to see the network compounding the damage so unnecessarily, in part because (unlike some in the blog world) I still value the good stuff CBS does.
CBS News' journalistic contributions have been enormous over the years. It would be tragic if this situation causes further deterioration of a once-great enterprise, which still does important work.
Eventually, the network will figure all this out. I hope that won't be too late.