Fewer watchdogs in era of corruption worrisome, Sullivan says

Oct 20, 2016

The economic crisis of American newspapers means there is less and less reporting on what is going on around us, especially areas of government that need to be watched. Former newspaper editor, now columnist Margaret Sullivan lamented the decline of investigative reporting at a fundraising dinner Wednesday night for Investigative Post.

Sullivan is the former Editor of the Buffalo News, the former Public Editor of the New York Times and now National Media Columnist for the Washington Post. She says there are fewer and fewer people watching the politicians in state capitals and in Washington, leaving some with no reporters at all observing what they do.

Credit The Washington Post

Speaking to a near full house at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, Sullivan said the beating being given to the media in this election year may permanently damage the public perspective when investigative coverage is needed.

"The idea that there are local delegations around the country in Washington that essentially have no coverage is extremely worrying," Sullivan said. "As one of my idols, David Cay Johnston, said, 'It's a great time to be a corrupt politician' and it's only going to get worse. So this is really worrisome."
"That watchdog, that accountability work that really is at the heart of what we do and that makes journalism such an important part of our democracy," Sullivan continued. "It's been really painful for me over the past few weeks to see, and months I suppose now, to see the way that the media has been disparaged."

"Every journalist I know and have worked with is a good person and an honest person. We make mistakes. We have flaws. But I think we have our hearts in the right place and to have a whole industry smeared as being corrupt and dishonest has been really painful," Sullivan said. "And it's been very difficult because I think it has an effect. I think people start to believe it.

She cited as an example of good reporting the coverage of Hillary Clinton's private email server in her Westchester County home, a server first reported by the New York Times.