January 05, 2011

An Honest Question for the Navy Times

Dear Sir or Madam:

A few days ago, the Virginian-Pilot reported on a raunchy video made by U.S. Navy Capt. Owen Honors. They posted the video on their website but edited the content to cover up some of the faces of sailors and Marines. Why did you, two days later, elect to post the unedited version of the video and not cover up the faces of sailors and Marines? I myself can see no added journalistic value in doing that. And if I were one of the sailors or Marines in the video, which I likely participated in making because the second-in-command of the ship on which I was serving politely asked ordered me to do so, I might be a little pissed off. Sailors and Marines in a chain of command, last I checked, do not sign letters of consent before making these kinds of videos.

But then I read in today's Politico that not one but two tapes were sent by an anonymous leaker -- one to the Virginian-Pilot and one to the Navy Times. But whoops! The tape sent to the Navy Times apparently went unopened for several days, allowing your newspaper to get scooped by the Virginian-Pilot due entirely to your inability to open you own mail. So if I were the kind of person who questions the motives of journalists scrambling to amass page views (and I'm just a blogger, so what do I know about page views?), I would ask whether or not this was a cheap way to play catch-up on a story in which you got scooped due to your own incompetence. I would also ask if throwing members of your primary readership under the bus was worth those extra page views.

You stay classy, Navy Times.


Abu Muqawama