Whether a reporter now or 100 years ago, this writer thinks he would fit journalist Pete Hamill's description of what a journalist must be: someone willing to explore what is in the back of the cave.
Hamill writes, in an introduction to Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism:
The reporter is the member of the tribe who is sent to the back of the cave to find out what's there. The report must be accurate. If there's a rabbit hiding in the darkness it cannot be transformed into a dragon.
Bad reporting, after all, could deprive people of shelter and warmth and survival on an arctic night.
But if there is, in fact, a dragon lurking in dark it can't be described as a rabbit. The survival of the tribe could depend upon that person with the torch.
In certain basic ways, the modern investigative reporter is only a refinement of that primitive model. The tools of the trade are extraordinary: The astonishing flood of documents on the Internet, the speed of other forms of communication, local and international, and, perhaps most important, the existence of a tradition.
Let us now look at how the life of this paperâ€™s author — a white, male journalist — would be different had he lived about 100 years ago.
Perhaps this writer would have been a muckraker or a reporter telling the truth. In many ways it was harder during that period to get the truth printed in a newspaper, particularly at some of the newspapers practicing yellow journalism.
In The Compact History of the American Newspaper author John Tebbel wrote about how William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer covered the Spanish American War:
Even though its resources were considerably less, the World was not without its distinguished coverage. Pulitzer sent Stephen Crane, whose Red Badge of Courage had appeared in 1895, as a correspondent, and Crane, who had been living from hand to mouth doing pieces for the Tribune and the Herald, responded by filing some of the warâ€™s best stories. They were not tales of battles, but of soldiers and soldiering â€“ the kind of reporting Ernie Pyle was to do in the Second World War. Crane, did, however, cover the fight at Guantanamo Bay in June 1898, when the first American causalities were recorded, and his detailed, informative story appeared on the Worldâ€™s front page. He was cited later for his bravery under fire.
This is the kind of good journalism everyone thinks we need more of right? Well, no. Just as some donâ€™t like reporting that is too honest or too frank today — and this writer can talk on that from personal experience — such was the case back then too with Crane: