The case of the coal industry’s faked letters to members of Congress from “constituents” is providing an interesting look at the modern news media as it changes.
Sure, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other behemoths had their own stories when news broke that a lobbying firm working for a group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity had hired a subcontractor that sent the bogus letters.
But nearly a week later, who’s really following the scandal? It’s getting legs in large part because so-called “new” media such as Talking Points Memo and Grist.org are bearing down on the story.
Kate Sheppard at Grist even found a new angle merely by looking in her news organization’s past files (once known as a “morgue,” which never made it sound enticing to dead-tree journos.) She offers today:
Grist contributor Sue Sturgis of the Institute for Southern Studies reported in May 2008 that a representative for ACCCE, then known as Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), was caught misrepresenting the group in a phone call that aimed to drum up opposition to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. In a call to an activist at the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, an ABEC representative lied about the fact that the group represents and lobbies on behalf of the electric utility industry.
(And you gotta love their subhead: “An ACCCE up the sleeve.”)
Over at TPM, Zachary Roth takes issue with fellow new media outlet Politico for a story a day earlier on the coal-mining group that talked about its push in Congress but failed to even mention this very recent scandal. (As Roth acknowledges, Politico came back today with a piece that tackles the scandal head-on.)
Meanwhile, consider perhaps the biggest behemoth of them all — and one that, in our humble opinion, is likely to weather this storm — The New York Times. It’s getting help covering the ongoing story from Greenwire.