Saturday, December 22, 2012

Absence of life …

… RealClearBooks - Washington Post Boring Itself to Death. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't think this is problem with only the Post. Newspaper people need to get out more, meet people besides their colleagues., stop reviewing stuff everybody else is reviewing and discover some things on their own. Funny, newspapers are really fascinated by trends, thinking that's the way to be hip, but to be hip means precisely not following trends.


  1. When I came to Washington almost 35 years ago, I got too good an impression of the post primarily because of two writers, Henry Mitchell and Judith Martin. Eventually I discovered that it was badly edited: I routinely found myself reading a news item a couple of times to discover just who had done what to whom. In its softer sections, it tended to encourage an undergraduate facetiousness in its writers. The Washington Monthly used to grumble that the uncelebrated Mike Causey, on the Federal Page beat, would come up with stories later broken with much noise by bigger names.

    It does have a fine comics page, though by now the comics are printed in a size that reminds baby boomers that we really are too old for them.

    And it still does have some good writers: Jay Matthews and Marc Fisher come to mind. It also has some mighty bad ones.

  2. I wrote a couple of "lifestyle" articles for the Post in 1999 and 2000, but their editors were quick to dismiss most of my story pitches as "obscure" or "too brainy." Perhaps they were right, but they sure were timid. When I discerned that a growing number of wineries were beginning to make and sell mead, their baffled food/wine editor told me no one would care. Around five years later, they finally ran a piece about mead, after it had been sufficiently covered elsewhere to be recognized as a minor but safe and establishment-approved trend.

    One Post travel editor was also firmly opposed to any piece that emphasized history.

    The best magazine and newspaper editors I've worked with haven't been afraid to take a chance on a piece about something they didn't already know. When they play it safe, you get the blandness Mark Judge is talking about.