| ASNE's annual convention is the largest annual gathering of newsroom leaders from daily newspapers and other news organizations. At ASNE 2012, editors and leaders in the field of journalism education will gather for programs focused on "What It Takes" to lead the digital and mobile transformation of a modern newsroom.
By Brooke Auxier and Dave Nyczepir
Watergate was a defining moment in American history and produced a fundamental piece of reporting regarded highly in the journalism industry.
June 17 will mark the 40th anniversary of the break-in and burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, young Washington Post Metro reporters, were able to link knowledge of the incident and a subsequent coverup to the White House and President Richard M. Nixon, largely using anonymous sources.
Their discoveries led to congressional hearings and ultimately Nixon's resignation in August 1974, making him the only U.S. president to do so.
"This was an assault on democracy by the president of the United States," Bernstein told panelists at the "Watergate 4.0: How Would the Story Unfold in the Digital Age?" session Tuesday afternoon. The group agreed that Watergate changed the journalism and newspaper industry.
"Watergate was like the big bang. It changed everything," said Jeff Leen, the Post's assistant managing editor of the investigative unit.
Leen, who came to the Post in 1997, said Watergate established a culture of investigative journalism that involves following money trails, obtaining paper records and connecting with human sources.
Woodward simply recalled it as "in-depth, persistent reporting."
"Find something to follow," he said. "Find something that will give you a hook for the story."
The reporters said they were able to unearth the story because they felt encouraged and supported in their pursuit.
"We were fortunate and lucky enough to work for a newspaper where the bottom line was the truth," Bernstein said.
Woodward and Bernstein operated in an era without the Internet, computers or cable television. But in today's digital era of tweeting and blogging, investigative journalism and news in general take a different shape.
"Operating on the Web frees you," said Josh Marshall, publisher of Talking Points Memo. "Today you can take one fact and, as long as you know it's accurate, you can go right to press with that. We are not bound to that cycle."
Marshall was 3 years old at the time of the Watergate break-in.
"My generation of reporters, you can call us the sons and daughters of Watergate," he said.
Brooke Auxier and Dave Nyczepir are students at the University of Maryland. They are among several local university journalism students reporting live from ASNE 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Apr 03 2012, 06:52 PM
About Amanda Knowles
Amanda Knowles is Web & Social Media Manager at the Newspaper Association of America. Before coming to NAA, Amanda spent four years working in print journalism, both at the college and professional level. She has worked as a copy editor and news page designer for two daily newspapers in northwestern Pennsylvania, The Erie Times-News and The Meadville Tribune. Most recently, she collaborated on The American Observer, the online magazine edited and produced by graduate journalism students at American University in Washington, D.C. Amanda believes strongly in the secure future of the newspaper, and is excited to be a participant in the movement to integrate traditional print media into the burgeoning digital world.