Saturday, December 27, 2008

The latest ...

...journalistic pity party: Bloggers are no replacement for real journalists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't think someone who uses the word prophesized in place of prophesied (perhaps he was thinking of proselytized) should be so quick to complain about pundint (which I, by the way, had never seen or heard of before now).

... it takes both talent and willpower to analyze [a] report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

That it does, but such analyses that I have seen in newspapers have tended to be both selective and tendentious. Actually, the people in a given school district are likely to be very interested in and willing to sit through such meetings and read such reports very carefully, since they are interested parties, more interested, apparently, than a cub reporter trying to keep himself awake during the proceedings "by employing trance-inducing techniques."


  1. As a former ink-stained wretch, I find myself agreeing with much that Mr. Mulshine says in this column. Doubtless I am blinkered by my own work history and experience, but I am continually amazed at the number of people, especially former ink-stained wretches, who absolutely hate newspapers. They can and do take heart, I suppose, from the knowledge that they will not be around much longer, and then life will be better.
    In connection with which, James Surowiecki’s column, “News You Can Lose,” in The New Yorker, Dec. 22, 2008, is most interesting, particularly as it is not special pleading on the part of newspapers by a writer with a personal stake or interest in them, as you could say Mr. Mulshine’s is. Mr. Surowiecki notes, too, that we do not realize he much we will miss newspapers when they are gone, and I quote:
    “Usually, when an industry runs into … trouble … it’s because people are abandoning its products. But people don’t use the Times less than they did a decade ago. They use it more. The difference is that today they don’t have to pay for it. The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free. That’s a consumer’s dream, but eventually it’s going to collide with reality: if newspapers’ profits vanish, so will their product. …
    “But it would not be shocking if, sometime soon, there were big American cities that had no local newspaper; more important, we’re almost sure to see a sharp decline in the volume and variety of content that newspapers collectively produce. For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.”

  2. I don't hate newspapers, Roger, but I watched one diminish before my eyes and I have heard plenty of purblind cant stated over and over again in news meetings. My principal objection to Mr. Mulshine's lamentation is that blogs have not killed newspapers. Newspapers have been committing slow suicide for years. The elimination of book coverage means that a large group of people - called readers - no longer find what they are looking for in newspapers. I think that many more people are interested in art, music and literature than are interested in the minutiae of politics (obviously, politics and war and economics figure in news coverage). Yesterday, The Inquirer had a couple of stories about ... the local electric company answering emergency calls on the holiday and ... people who go to the movies on Christmas. Pretty exciting stuff, eh?

  3. Anonymous4:46 PM

    There is indeed often nothing more boring than a public meeting, which is why bloggers can attend the public meeting, report interesting details, and fashion a long-form report that is far more compelling that the sad dessicated prose that often serves as newspaper journalism.

    There was a recent Pew Reports statistic for this year: in 2008, for the first time, people turned to the Internet for news more than newspapers. Not only has it not occurred to some newspapers to hire bloggers to provide a fresher perspective for journalism, but they willfully make themselves obsolete by getting rid of articles after three weeks, not bothering to tag them with keywords or categories, not provide RSS feeds, and not permit comments. You will find all this on the blogosphere. In fact, I think it can be argued that blogs are doing a better job at tracking stories than newspapers at times because of these active technologies.

    I say this not because I hate newspapers. For goodness sake, I write for newspapers too. I would like to see them adapt, with the print and online venues working together for a solid journalistic future, where both sides can work together. And I certainly relate to the disappearance of outlets, whether print or online, who report on damn near anything. Tomorrow's journalists have a responsibility to be thorough, accurate, and lively.

    But as a guy who has (just on his blog) broken numerous stories, conducted close to 300 interviews with authors and filmmakers, reported on events and meetings and panels, and the like, I think I can safely divine that Mr. Mushine doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about.

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