The period of press hand-wringing and soul-searching is long past. The harsh critique of the news media in "Brill's Content"is by now old news. And the Monica Lewinsky story is back with a vengeance.
To a certain extent, news organizations are proceeding as usual: plastering their front pages and leading their television reports with news about developments in the case. But news executives say they are doing things differently this time around."I think we're all being a bit more cautious in making sure that we get things in perspective," said Walter Isaacson, managing editor of Time magazine. "But I'm really not sure that there were any major transgressions made the first time."
Even Steven Brill, who harshly criticized coverage of the Lewinsky case as irresponsible in his magazine on the news media, said he had noticed a slight change in approach on the part of several news organizations.
"People are being a little more careful about identifying sources," Brill said.
But Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary, said, "As the chum in the water, I can attest it's the same feeding frenzy. The press has but one speed on this story, and it's fast forward with too few editors who press the pause button."
While many newspaper, magazine and television journalists have defended their initial coverage as appropriate, some news executives say the accusations of Brill and other critics prompted a healthy self-examination about reliable sourcing and getting too far ahead of the facts.
Leo Wolinsky, managing editor for news at The Los Angeles Times, said criticism of the press had forced his newspaper to try to provide better context and to winnow out gratuitous, salacious details.