Politico’s story about allegations that Herman Cain sexually harassed two women while he was head of the National Restaurant Association has generated mixed reactions from journalists and news consumers.
On Monday, ProPublica’s Stephen Engelberg referred to it as “the investigative scoop of the season.” But he said it lacks key details and relies on anonymous sources who don’t seem to have first-hand knowledge of what actually happened. (GOP senators have also been critical of the story’s reliance on anonymous sources.)
Reuters’ Jack Shafer pointed out the shortcomings of the story as well, saying “Politico wrapped the allegations in journalistic gauze that frays and dissolves as you unwind it.”
The story and the reactions it’s gotten raise important questions about scoops: What’s the value of scoops or exclusives these days? How can journalists lend credibility to them? And how much do they matter to news consumers and journalists?
A new PRWeek survey found that the number of journalists who value an exclusive has dropped since 2008, and that “rather than being the first to the story, the new media influencers want to be the first to provide a snappy outtake of the news.”
In a live chat today, Shafer talked about some of the issues surrounding scoops. You can replay the chat here: