By B.L. Ochman Mark Cuban, the technology billionaire, caused a sea change in journalism when he used his blog to show the email exchanges between him and New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, last summer, for a column about Cuban’s investment in an Internet company. Cuban didn’t like Sorkin’s column, and, when Sorkin’s notes were published, it was not hard to see why.
Since then, several Times reporters, as well as reporters at BusinessWeek and other major media have begun to experiment with open source journalism, running their interview notes as well as their stories. Cuban had a remarkable impact on dead-tree journalism, and he’s about to change the rules again.
Now Cuban has snagged Dan Rather to help him create a new kind of news show for Cuban’s HD Net.
“You may think you know what Dan Rather and HDNet will do together,” Cuban blogged. “But you don’t. You have no idea. I will tell you that there wont be any corporate considerations. No earnings per share issues. No worries about advertisers and what they might think.
Right is its own defense.”
And, Cuban told the New York Times, “Unshackled from the talking head world where earnings per share mean more than finding the truth, the opportunities for HDNet and Dan are unlimited.”
I grew up watching Dan Rather report the news that shaped my views and my life. I’ve always had respect for his journalistic integrity and his skills as a reporter. At 74, Rather has talked about TR, or time remaining, and how he wants to make the most of the time he has left. I believe he has found an extraordinary way to make the time count. I think he and Cuban may write a new chapter in journalism history, and I look forward to seeing it evolve.
For his part, Rather told the New York Times (sub required) that “the opportunity to build something from the ground up, I think, will have its own satisfactions.” Rather said he had been given assurances by Cuban, that if he accepted the offer, that he would have complete, unfettered control of his program. “It’s a situation,” he said, “where there are not very large — let me put it this way — corporate and political complexities.”
Rather was bitten by right wing bloggers, and his decades-long career destroyed, by a scandal, dubbed “Memogate” over his coverage of President Bush’s military records. Said a particularly nasty right winger today, “Good-bye, Dan. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.”
Rather told Esquire in August 2005,
“The central facts in the story were correct, and they have not been denied. … Whatever mistakes – real or imagined – that were made were not born of political bias nor of prejudice. Did we do it perfectly? No. Are there things I wish we’d done that we didn’t do? Yes.
The press is a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can’t be right all the time. He doesn’t bark only when he sees or smells something that’s dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious.”