When Good Media Crit Goes Bad

This is really sad. I’m totally on Willy Stern’s side with this:

Yes, the numbers are boring, Mr. Dubow, but you ought be laughing all the way to the bank. Your operating profit margin last year was a whopping 30.6 percent, significantly better than your elitist competition, those who snicker behind your back at Gannett’s all-color weather maps and 3-inch fluff stories. Herewith, the competitions’operating profit margins, as reported by Value Line: Dow Jones (13.6 percent); New York Times (14.9 percent); and Washington Post (20.1 percent). While these bastions of journalistic excellence are laying off their bow-tied-wearing, leftward-tilting, Ivy League-educated journalists, Gannett marches on. Yes, Mr. Dubow, congratulations. You’re not a news snob; you’re a success story.

But Stern can’t just confine himself to bashing on “arrogant corporate tools” who see 18 percent profits as “underperforming” and cut newsrooms before they fly commercial.

No, he has to talk about how all reporters are morons:

Walk into the newsroom of any of your 90 newspapers today. Or head down to one of your local TV stations. Look around. Better yet, pop down to Nashville and visit with the writers and editors at The Tennessean. Then ask yourself whether any of these news people have the brains to make partner at the blue-chip law firm downtown, or receive tenure at a top university, or become a talented surgeon. You already know the answer, and so do I. With a few exceptions—some of the journalists at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and a few others—the staffs of daily newsrooms today are largely composed of unimpressive people doing singularly unimpressive work. Call it the “Department of Motor Vehicle-ization” of the news business.

and all bloggers are creeps:

The meteoric rise of a million bloggers in their pajamas is maddening. These parasitic information gatherers leech onto the news content that your edit staffs produce, pay nothing to print newspapers or to staff overseas bureaus, yet steal huge chunks of your readership daily. The news business still hasn’t found a solution to the increasingly partisan nature of media organizations or its inexorable drift toward sensationalism, entertainment and shouting-to-be-heard.

And so from the bottom of my former reporter, current blogger heart, Mr. Stern, fuck you. You walk into any newsroom in this country and you’ll find people who work harder on their laziest day than you work on your busiest. My former colleagues did work that changed laws, saved lives, repaired damage and in some cases even inspired people, and they did it all for shit pay on lousy hours and sometimes under duress from the very corporate tools you so despise. Why lump their hard work in with your excoriation of the people really ruining the press?

As to your point about bloggers, wow, is that a stupid paragraph. I wish the Internet had a contest for “stupidest paragraph” because I’m pretty sure that would fetch you a tidy prize. It’s like a mishmash of shit that hasn’t been true since 1996, with a string of stereotypes and clichs and somebody else Mad Lib-ing the verbs.

And not for nothing, Mr. Stern, but maybe your students, so smart, so young, so full of determination never to work in newspapers? Maybe they feel that way because you tell them stuff like this in class: that the industry is doomed, that reporting is for people too dim to get into law school, and that they’d be better off working at the DMV.

I’m sorry your students are venal, full-of-themselves pricks who don’t have that kind of public service in them, the kind of public service that leads to getting shot at in Iraq and LA, that leads to working three days without a break calling everybody in the phone book trying to track down a slice of information so minute it’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles but if you can get it right, you’ll stop somebody in power from stealing from the powerless. I’m sorry that no longer inspires you and your beknighted children.

However, I fail to see where that’s the fault of reporters or bloggers.

A.