Jack Shafer Demonstrates The Helpful Curation Needed For Digital Excavation

Last October, I wrote that rather than focusing on the various stories of the day (sorry, I have nothing to say about Jeremy Lin), I was interested in finding “great things that are old but could be new to me on the Internet.” I called this notion “digital excavation.” Essentially, it is an acknowledgement that there are stores of information and much of value on the web that many of us have yet to come into contact with for the simple reason that it was produced before we were paying attention. But this can be remedied somewhat by either conscious exploration or helpful curation by others.

Yesterday, Reuters media minder Jack Shafer published a column on an upcoming book about Mark Felt’s role as the iconoclastic leaker “Deep Throat” during Watergate. In the course of the column, Shafer ably demonstrated the helpful curation that can facilitate digital excavation. In the course of his article, Shafer mentioned and linked to several interesting, but bygone or squirreled away pieces of writing and info that provide great insight and context about journalism, Watergate, and more:

— A 1974 Commentary piece by Edward Jay Epstein (available on Epstein’s own website) about the “sustaining myth of journalism” exhibited during Watergate that “every great government scandal is revealed through the work of enterprising reporters who by one means or another pierce the official veil of secrecy.”

— A Q&A on Bob Woodward’s personal website (who ever thinks of visiting that?) in which he summarizes his beliefs on Felt’s motives for leaking. Shafer notes that Woodward’s view has evolved.

— A “classic August 1987 Los Angeles Times story” on the fine art of authorized leaks in Washington, D.C. 

— A myth-busting look back at the Watergate story by Barry Sussman, who was editor in charge of Post Watergate coverage. 

— The 2005 Vanity Fair story in which Felt revealed his role as “Deep Throat.” I had actually read this, but I doubt many who weren’t active news readers 7 years ago have. 

Shafer also links to several Google Books, including multiple direct citations from All The President’s Men

Speaking of books, after reading the column, I went to add a couple of the books mentioned in the article — Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat and Watergate’s Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse — to my “to-read” page on Goodreads, but the Goodreads search came up blank. I wonder if this is a result of Goodreads decision to stop using Amazon’s API for its book data. I’m sure there could be other explanations, but I am curious. This is the first time I’ve gotten blank search results, let alone two consecutive blank searches.

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