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From AJR,   October/November 2003  issue

Speed Kills   

Though I mostly agree with Charles Layton's assessment that Judith Miller's jump-the-gun reporting on WMD discoveries in Iraq was only the most visible example of a general failure on the part of the media, it is Miller's own quotes in the article that are the most compelling evidence against her and the media in general ("Miller Brouhaha," August/September).

She explains her competitors' questioning of her reporting this way: "I think we beat everybody in the field, and what we're getting now is a lot of sour grapes." The immediate assumption that her winning the speed contest is the primary motivation behind her detractors, not her methodology, is telling of where the emphasis is placed in journalism today.

Later she says, "We were the first ones to have it. When it's to the New York Times, it's a leak; when other papers get it, it's dogged reporting." Again the emphasis on being first, what's actually true seems secondary.

On Election Day 2000, when the media made a huge mess of Florida, making "certain" predictions before polls had closed, we (the readers and viewers, remember us?) were told this sort of thing will never happen again. All kinds of promises were made about responsible journalism; sadly, almost all have been broken.

Chris Dodson
Montville, New Jersey