Media Weekend III: John Geddes Speaks

About the last place I’d have expected sense is from the NYT managing editor yet here it is:

There never was a golden age of journalism.  For every good newspaper, there was a bad one.  For every exemplar of wonderful reporting, there was a piece of trash.  For every raft of nefarious deeds uncovered, there was an unseemly favor we might have granted.  For every reader we tried to engage, five escaped.  Harking back to halcyon days for this industry is naive and fruitless and arrogant.  There weren’t any.

At every historical juncture, some strand of journalism may be better than it ever was, but we’re never as good an industry as we could be.  That’s neither an admission of failure nor a testament to our success. It is simply a statement of fact.


For at least a century we’ve decried the monopolization of media power (which hasn’t stopped more monopolies from growing up) and the disappearance of competing voices.  And yet now that we’re on the cusp of a certain de-monopolization, where tools like cell phones can gather demonstrators and anyone can post on the internet an opinion for millions to see, we get nervous.  We’re worried about what might be lost as well-trod old paths give way to uncertain new ones.

Sorry folks, we can’t have it both ways.   We can’t spend our time decrying the monopolization of the channels of mass communication and then decry the impact these new freer forms of information have on our current businesses.