Originally Published on OpEdNews
INTERVIEW with: Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele are the nation's most honored investigative reporting team, and authors of the New York Times bestseller America: What Went Wrong ?
This is part two of a two part interview. The First half of the interview is here.
thanks to Don Caldarazzo for help with transcript checking.
The audio for this podcast is here.
speaker 1 Rob Kall, Interviewer
Speaker 2/ Donald L. Barlett, Interviewee
Speaker 3/ James B. Steele, Interviewee
Rob Kall: My guests tonight are Donald Barlett. And James Steele.
They're the authors of "Betrayal of the American Dream", a new book that is just... really kicks butt. Donald Barlett and James Steele are the nation's most honored investigative reporting team, and they're authors of the New York Times bestseller "America: What Went Wrong?" They've worked together for more than forty years, first at the Philadelphia Inquirer (1971--1997), then at Time magazine (1997--2006), and now Vanity Fair.
Rob Kall: All right, let's talk about the media. I want to talk about your experience. Now you are highly honored and celebrated journalists. I'd like to get some advice from you for writers nowadays. There are a lot of bloggers, there are a lot of amateur writers out there. How can people, who have a lot of time because they're out of work, or because they're passionately caring and interested in this" how can they learn from your experience? What advice would you give them as writers and journalists?
Barlett and Steele, image from their website, barlettandsteele.com
James Steele: [Jim Steele here] We have always, and this hasn't really changed" we've always suggested that unfortunately people have to kind of connect the dots. There's no one place that you're going to see everything. But you just [have] to be informed, because information comes in so many different directions, you really have to try to pull some of that together. And you know, that's what our business ought to do more of. That's what Don and I tried to do over the years. We've tried to connect those dots on a lot of these big issues. But more of it needs to be done. And the problem now in some ways, it's almost a blizzard of information that people half the time don't know what to go to, what to look at, what to believe. And the internet is both a marvellous creature, but also the purveyor of a lot of nonsense. So it's in some ways harder then ever to connect the dots than the old days. But it's still what has to be done to know what's happened.
Donald Barlett: And one good sign out there is the investigative reporting today, some of it is the best it's ever been. And contrary to what people like to think. There's always been investigative reporting, but it was very little of it for, you know, most of the life of journalism. It's really only come of age since the "70s, and as bad as things are in journalism right now, there's some remarkable investigative reporting going on. And somehow this has got to be further expanded, you know, that's for, you know, people to figure out how to do. But what it does show you, is that the potential is there. We just have to find a way to get people to do it.
James Steele: The way we did this project is a perfect example of how things are changing. Years ago it would be your newspaper and maybe a couple of other people on the paper, but Don and I partnered with a non-profit Foundation, based in an American university in Washington D.C. They provided some of the research help. And also as a vehicle to start posting some of the researchers, we went along, which then led us to some of the people whose interviews are in the book. That's the kind of collaborative thing that would have been unheard of, really ten years ago, twenty years ago.