Friday, November 28, 2008

What I meant to say

Fred at Slactivist makes the argument, in detail, that I tried to make in frothing fury the other night at my dinner with the old journalists. Wish I had been able to google and time travel at the same time I could have had my dinner in peace while letting the internet work for me. Plus, I love the utter convergence of the virtual and the real since Fred (who I don't know) jumps off from Brad DeLong's blog (and I do know Brad IRL). And the point of departure for Fred's essay is my favorite feature at Brad's blog, his version of "wanker of the day" which is "why oh why can't we have a better press corps" also known as "NYT/WaPo Death Spiral." All of these conversions reflect the underlying reality that what is doing in Newspapers, as Fred argues, is an unrealistic assesment of their profit margins, the cutting of professional staff and researchers to feed stockholder appetites for money, and the downward spiral of incompetence and contempt for the readers. Meanwhile, on the blogging side, special focus bloggers like Brad, or (formerly) Nathan Newman or Glenn Greenwald or Juan Cole, have the time, pixels, and confidence in their readers to lengthy disquisitions on difficult topics, to refer the reader back and forth in time to past and future columns, to link widely to subject matter experts, original documents, and or other accounts of complex subjects from other viewpoints. Meanwhile, as Fred demonstrates, the reporter and his or her editor are left with an ethic of "get it into print first and fast" with no real time, inclination, or back up for serious thought and reflection on complex topics. No science editor with science background means no backstop to an AP story that the reporter himself doesn't understand. No long term perspective, like Glenn Greenwald's interest in Civil Rights and Torture or Brad in Economics means no long running features that cover the same ground in more detail every day, or every week. Instead we get, in Atrios' brilliant neologism "journamalism." Nothing new or surprising here except for the refusal of some pretty high up practitioners to admit what is happening. On the other hand, as Ahab points out today, who cares? We've got a lot of great stuff to be reading, even if it doesn't happen to come via "the Dean's" imprimatur.


cross posted at a turkey sodden No More Mr. Nice Blog