The Bold Old Media
Come down from the pulpit, Mr. Carroll — and watch that first step, it’s a doozie. Let’s look at how most journalism in most papers on most days is executed: What boldness is needed in sports? In movie reviews? In TV listings? In cutting-and-pasting wire-service stories? In retyping press releases in the business section? In attending and regurgitating press conferences? In writing fluffy lifestyle stories? In gardening columns? In comics? Carroll chants the oft-cited notion that journalism comes only from newspapers: “This is our role: Newspapers dig up the news. Others repackage it.” Well, that is often true and I do not want to lose that digging. But let’s be clear that newspapers aren’t the only ones who can dig; in fact, I argue that they should be enabling more in the community to dig with them — and then they’d have more journalism to repackage. And again, let’s make clear that most days on most pages most newspapers do themselves repackage — from wire services and press releases and now even from the internet. Now I don’t have anything against most of that; in fact, the more useful the type on a page is to a reader’s life, the better, and the more efficient papers can be with what doesn’t matter so they can concentrate on what does matter — local reporting — the better. But let’s not pretend that editors’ every working hour is consumed with high acts of journalism: investigating wrongdoing in government and standing up for Everyman.
That’s exactly right. There is some yeoman reporting out there in the press, including Carroll’s former paper, but there’s also a lot of fluff and dreck.
It’s ironic that Google decided a few months ago to purge most of the blogs, including this one, from their news service. What they’re left with, though, is hundreds of different headlines to the same AP and Reuters wire stories. It’s not clear to me how much of a contribution that makes.