Just Trust Us

That’s what three formerly reputable investigative journalists are saying here, in Howard Kurtz’s WaPo column, when they rationalize taking money from the Church of Scientology for a “study” on a Florida paper’s in-depth examination of the famously prickly and secretive self-help organization.

From Kurtz, this you have to read to believe:

Steve Weinberg, the former IRE [Investigative Reporters and Editors] executive, who has taught at the University of Missouri’s journalism school for a quarter-century, says he was paid $5,000 to edit the study and “tried to make sure it’s a good piece of journalism criticism, just like I’ve written a gazillion times. . . . For me it’s kind of like editing a Columbia Journalism Review piece.”

Oh, gag me with an Audit.

In August, after the hard-hitting special report on the Church of Scientology first appeared, CJR said this:

The St. Petersburg Times‘s coverage of Scientology, though, is a noble example of a journalistic organization doing stellar and gutsy work, with the full understanding that lawsuits, or worse, could ensue.

“Worse,” in my book, is three investigative reporters becoming hired guns for the subject of an unflattering portrait in a newspaper.  They ought to be ashamed.  No word, yet, from CJR on Weinberg’s incredible assertion– that what he did is akin to a piece that might appear in CJR.

[Here’s Gawker’s take.]   UPDATE: CJR weighs in.

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