Monday, February 16, 2009

Two reporters

A story in the Chicago Tribune by media reporter Phil Rosenthal tells us that two Tribune Company reporters have accepted jobs in the Obama administration.  What interested me is that both of these reporters have been featured on this very blog.

First, Peter Gosselin of the L.A. Times has gone to work as a speech writer for our new Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.  I reviewed Gosselin's book, High Wire, this past December, and I considered it one of the best jobs of reporting I have ever come across.  In its focus on the ways in which risk has been transferred from the institutions most able to handle it to the individuals least able, it expertly showed what happens when we, under the guise of ideology, sell the safety net and give the proceeds to the well-off.  Gosselin exposed just how close we all are to falling between the cracks, and how unequipped our society is to fix the fissures.

I don't know how integrated Gosselin will be in the workings of the Treasury Department; I understand that there is a fairly wide range of experiences for speech writers, some of whom become close aides, others of whom put pretty words on paper.  I hope he will be given the chance to bring the people he interviewed for the book into the national discussion.

Second, Jill Zuckman of the Tribune will be moving to the Transportation Department to serve as assistant to the secretary and director of public affairs.  I wrote about an interview Zuckman conducted with Sarah Palin back in October, finding it an appalling example of the way a campaign can get an award-winning journalist to play ball.  Zuckman's questions were softball, and she injected her own commentary when she termed the questionable image spending of the Palin campaign as "nitpicking."

So we have two reporters from the same company both leaving journalism to become public servants, and I wish them well.  I cannot help but hope that Gosselin has an influence on policy, and that Zuckman regains her footing - especially as we will be paying their salaries now.

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