Warren Strobel was senior correspondent, foreign affairs, for the Knight Ridder Washington bureau during the time of filming, and he now has the same job and title for The McClatchy Company, which bought the Knight Ridder papers. In DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE, Strobel and his Knight Ridder colleague Jonathan Landay questioned the message disseminated by the U.S. government and discuss tactics the Bush administration used to mislead and manipulate public perception.
What story (or stories) have you worked on since filming wrapped on DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE?
I've been continuing to try to aggressively cover the Bush administration's foreign and national security policies in his second term. That includes a lot of the issues that the DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE segment dwelt on, such as government secrecy, use and misuse of intelligence and policy toward countries such as Iraq and Iran.
What do you think of the present and future of independent journalism?
I am actually fairly optimistic. The growth of blogs and independent journalism have provided entire new outlets to get information out and debate it, although the quality is uneven, to be sure. The decline in the newspaper industry is worrisome, and there seem to be fewer, not more, reporters covering Washington and the world. Finally, the Bush administration has made life more difficult by closing off access, criminalizing leaks and pursuing reporters and their sources. I'm afraid that some of those trends will continue under whoever Bush's successor is.
How has technology influenced your job?
Cell phones, email and all that certainly help in contacting sources and spreading the news. But at bottom, good reporting is good reporting, no matter what the mechanism or medium.
Of all the stories you have covered, which has been most important, or the one you feel most proud of?
The work I am proudest of in my career is the work that Knight Ridder's Washington bureau (now McClatchy) did prior to the invasion of Iraq, questioning the case for war and the lack of planning for post-war.
How do you find your stories?
All sorts of ways. The classic "leak," where someone picks up a phone and drops a great story in your lap, is rare. A lot of it's mundane calling of sources, reading the tea leaves, using analytical skills to pick up what's in the wind and where the story is going next.
What do you think it will take for the American government to more transparently disseminate information to the press and public?
Read more by and about Warren Strobel and his work:
McClatchy Washington Bureau: reporting by Warren Strobel
Read about the other journalists featured in the film >>