The New York Times' perspective might be this: if we don't give the Taliban the press it wants, then we'll have more leverage when it comes to getting him out. Furthermore, maybe all this kidnapping stuff will stop once they see there's no news.
But this was the New York Times' second kidnapping in under a year. Kidnapping of a journo is one of those those events that fills in the image of how dangerous the situation in Afghanistan really is: everyone there is fair game. The Taliban had to have known that this might warrant a rescue effort, and one can bet that they weren't going to let someone get away by scaling a wall again. This wasn't going to end neatly.
Which brings me to the New York Times' probable second thought: Some news outlets are far less worthy of trust, and once they find out (Blogcritics included), public hysteria will ensue. There will be more rumors in the push for more information and everything will get botched.
But then... bad things happened anyway. The Brits stepped in when their sources signaled the situation was worsening. The net result was one British soldier, a highly valued Afghan national who worked with news outlets for years as an interpreter, along with another Afghan were killed. Net result: one New York Times journo saved, three others lost. And this was with almost a complete news outlet blackout.
So, this begs the question: Is the kidnapping of a journo newsworthy? (Yes, it is). But when does the conventional wisdom touted by the Times start to wear thin? Did Roggio (as he was accused by some bloggers) endanger the life of Farrell? (I don't think so. Things were going downhill quickly all on their own). Should the New York Times expect that everyone in the blogosphere will bend to their request to suppress news?
I'm going to ask a few journos — including one who has won a Pulitzer Prize — to see what they think of this. It'll be interesting to hear the responses.
Thanks to Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive for the loop.
* That's my word, dammit.