Today on Romensko’s buffet of vanity, stupidity, greed and nonsense we find two tasty morsels of journalism wisdom, two people who’ve somehow managed to climb over the mountainous terrain of whatever CNN is spewing these days about hip young bloggers and how they’re gonna kill journalism, and actually survey the landscape that’s there instead of the one Daryn Kagan told them was there.
Newspapers have become strangely enamored with Web logs, a.k.a. blogs, recently adopting an “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality. Examples range from ink-stained curmudgeons blogging away at the TV Critics Assn.’s semiannual gathering in Beverly Hills to the Los Angeles Times’ revamped, Internet-oriented Sunday op-ed section. No one, in fact, is immune from high-tech pandering, including National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program, which solicited emails last week containing listeners’ TV series suggestions in a misguided attempt to seem cool.
Alas, these demographically motivated incursions by conservative old media into the online realm almost invariably reek of desperation, much like an aging hipster uncomfortably trying to squeeze into jeans from the young men’s dept.
Marry me, Brian. Marry me right now. I don’t deny there’s a sort of undercurrent of hostility to blogging running through his piece, but he saves his greatest contempt for exactly where it belongs: established media so desperate for relevance that they flail around trying to do everything except what they’re actually good at, what got them an audience in the first place.
The media give the public what the public wants, but maybe it’s time to give the public what it needs instead. Is it nave or idealistic to expect the media to operate outside a capitalist and competitive system in which profit is the bottom line?
Perhaps we should start exploring new ways to fund the media so they won’t be susceptible to market forces.
It’s idealistic, but it’s not naive. It’s facts and it’s about time the industry faced them. Market forces are killing journalism faster than the Internet ever could. There’s no traditional career track anymore, small papers are being bought up by larger ones and turned into clones of their corporate parents, CEOs steal millions from their companies while journalists are told they can’t have a couple of dollars’ raise to support a family on because “times are tight right now.” Reporters, good reporters, work for the love of the job and do it for peanuts compared to the rich assholes who run their lives and take their work and pocket the profits. But you never see Howie Kurtz or Tom McPhail (supreme ignoramus that he is) boring on about that, do you? It’s just easier to blame the Internet.
And this lovely lady puts her finger right on the solution to the problem. Leaders in journalism have the power to do something about the trend toward the shallow and soap opera in their trade. They have presses and TV studios. If they want to change things, they should do it, or they should shut the fuck up and wallow honestly, making no pretense that they’re just showing you Natalee Holloway because their audience demands it.