Interview: Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald writes the blog "Unclaimed Territory" for Salon.com and is the author of the best-selling book How Would a Patriot Act? His second book, Tragic Legacy, is set to be released in June.

Glenn Greenwald writes the blog "Unclaimed Territory" for Salon.com and is the author of the best-selling book How Would a Patriot Act? His second book, Tragic Legacy, is set to be released in June.

PRWeek: What persuaded you to begin blogging?

Glenn Greenwald: Well, I had been a reader of blogs for about a year or two before I began blogging, which was in October of 2005, and I had really concluded that the best political discussions and analysis by far was taking place among bloggers and that the level of discussion was so superior to what one can find in the mainstream press. I felt like there were issues that were being insufficiently discussed and covered in general, and really wanted a platform to be able to bring attention to those issues. Joining the discussion in the blogosphere is just very appealing to me because of its high quality.

PRWeek: What role do you think political blogging is playing in the media? How do you view your role as a blogger?

Greenwald: I think political bloggers in general have two important roles.

One is they represent a line of opinion that believes that the political system in Washington - the entire structure of both political parties, the consulting class, the media class - is just deeply corrupt and that the en-tire system is flawed in a fundamental way.

The other aspect is that the nature of blogging just enables much deeper analysis and thought about the various facts.

I think the mainstream media still do a superior job at original nuts-and-bolts reporting - the who, what, when, where, and why - because they have the resources. But the ability to take all those facts, connect the dots, and put them together and analyze what really is happening, I think, is something bloggers do universes better than mainstream journalists for a variety of reasons.

PRWeek: I know you just joined Salon recently. Does being attached to an established media outlet change the nature of your blog in any way?

Greenwald: I don't think it does at all. And the reason for that is when I began speaking to various magazines and other outlets about moving my blog, the very first term that I made clear that was absolutely non-negotiable, was that I would have complete and total editorial freedom. To write whatever I wanted, how often I wanted, in exactly the format I wanted, that I would have no assignments, that not even for aesthetic or stylistic purposes could anybody ever edit a single word that I wrote. Salon agreed to that, so although my blog is at Salon, and publicized by Salon, it is completely independent editorially and substantively from what Salon produces. So for that reason I very much consider myself an independent blogger. I am not a journalist attached to any kind of established outlet.

PRWeek: You've been writing a lot about the national media's failure in the buildup to the war in Iraq. It seems the media aren't acknowledging the problems you'd like to see addressed. Do you think there's a serious conversation taking place about how to correct these problems?

Greenwald: I think there are some journalists who are conscientious, who want to do a better job journalistically, and are aware that the media had a profound collapse in function prior to the Iraq War. They are engaging in some modestly improved journalism with regard to Iran in isolated instances.

As a whole, however, the American media really do not agree with the proposition that many, many Americans, if not most, believe, which is that the administration was able to propagate all sorts of myths about the Iraqi threat because journalists did not subject those claims to the scrutiny they deserved.

PRWeek: It seems the 24-hour news cycle has made it difficult to put any scandal or controversy into context before we're rushing on to the next one. Do you think the public has lost the ability to appropriately reflect on the impact of these events?

Greenwald: Journalists work for large corporations, which are now run by profit models. They need to produce a certain number of news stories a day, [but] don't have many resources devoted to investigative journalism. [In turn,] they don't have very much time, even the ones who have the capability and are inclined to truly analyze the significance of each of these stories.

PRWeek: The current US attorney scandal seems to be suffering from that right now.

Greenwald: Exactly. It's interesting, in that story a handful of bloggers like Josh Marshall and some others were insisting it was a story of some significance, and many national journalists expressly disagreed and refused to even cover it, and later admitted they were wrong. Even now the only places I ever read any analysis about why it's such an important story is in blogs. To the extent that national journalists cover it, as you say, it's sort of, ‘Well today three emails were found that weren't found earlier,' or ‘this aide refused to testify.' It's always in this entertainment driven framework, and the real meaning of it is something you get if you go read the good political bloggers.

PRWeek: Would you have any tips for PR people?

Greenwald: I think for bloggers, they become pretty sophisticated at recognizing mass PR notices that aren't very interesting. The more that can be done to cater it to the specific group-- I would say those kinds of notices would get a lot bigger impact if they were more focused and sent to fewer people than generic ones that are just blanketed across the universe.

Name: Glenn Greenwald

Outlet: Salon.com

Title: Blogger

Preferred contact method: GGreenwald@salon.com

Web site: www.salon.com

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