Journalism & Punditry

There’s a whole lot going on here.

True reporters hate TV blathering gasbags and don’t acknowledge there’s any bleed-over from the work of the one to the “conventional wisdom” of the other. They don’t pay attention and they don’t push back, more properly, their editors don’t push back when they see their reporters’ work being misrepresented on Press the Meat and other such bloviation fora. Which is why you get two narratives out there, the one that’s supported by sober, well-informed reporting that benefits us all, and the one that’s full of stuff “everybody knows” like how Whitewater was a scandal and Joh Kerry lied about his medals before he threw them away.

Partly it’s the lure of being on TV that keeps them in line, the idea that the highest ambition a reporter can have is to sit next to Timmeh or Chris Matthews or Greta and have everyone and their mother look on in envy. That kind of exposure leads to book deals and money, and cross-platform promotion, and yeah, sure, it pollutes and destroys the work and turns every story into an attempt to fame-whore your way onto the evening news (someday I will get around to telling the tale of why I left journalism), but it might also be the only way you could get any job security at all, and newsrooms aren’t exactly places to make yourself comfortable these days. Consultants are crawling up everybody’s ass about new media and integration and convergence and most of them only half-understand any of it.

Partly, it’s the idea that people are smarter than they are and can distinguish between Russert and real reporters without being explicitly told anything. Which is such unbelievable crap, but it perpetuates itself, this idea that if we don’t lower ourselves to talk about it, the problem will just resolve on its own. It doesn’t work for strep throat or cancer and it isn’t working here, either. Journalism as a trade, as a craft, has been bunkered down in the root cellar for a couple decades now, while journalism the “profession” has been upstairs kicking democracy’s ass. Bunkered down against job cuts, against corporate greed, against the constant refrain that it’s the newsroom that’s the problem, against howling right-wing bias junkies, against just about everything’s that’s a cosmetic problem while everything that’s an actual problem gets ignored.

Until journalism and journalists start defending themselves, from being lumped in with Timmeh and the like, from having their work mis-characterized and misunderstood, from being kicked in the face over and over and over in service of fame and just assuming that someday the world will wake up, until that happens, there’s still going to be two narratives out there, the writers of both pushing their own and pretending the other doesn’t exist.


One thought on “Journalism & Punditry

  1. Well said! Do you suppose that you could get the speaking gigs and commenting spots that Orville Schell gets? I wish.
    Here is the other thing, People think that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are Journalists. (Maybe I should do a survey to prove it)
    I kid you not. Why? Because Rush and Sean TELL THEM they are.
    Melanie Morgan was going on the other day about her “30 years in journalism” like she still was one, instead of a name calling talk radio host.
    Who has interviews with big news makers?
    Rush. Hannity. That’s what people in journalism do, right? What’s the diff?
    And it’s not just STUPID people who are impacted. The narrative IS polluted because they are screaming it in multiple ways. The think tanks, the Media Research Center, the people who go on these shows and say, “all media except Fox are left wing and have a bias” all contribute to it.
    And yes, I’m pissed off at the managers for not pushing back. When I wrote the AP managers about Lee Rodgers calling for all of their reporters to commit mass suicide they did NOTHING.
    Why? “Well, he has his right to free speech.”
    That’s not the point. As if you as MANAGERS couldn’t call and complain.
    The WSJ advertisers didn’t pull their ads from KSFO even after Morgan called for their reporter to hang. Why? Because they didn’t mention him “specifically by name” like she did Bill Keller.
    It wasn’t the Editors that I wanted to push back, it was the ADVERTISERS! They were paying Melanie Morgan to call for the death of their writer. That really pissed me off. If you want to pay for the salary of the woman who wants your editor dead, fine, but don’t expect the editors to give you any respect when you don’t bother to back them up in the public sphere.
    And that is why I titled my last post based on your column defending people who can’t defend themselves. The editors have a hard time pushing back, but their goddamn mangers should. And if they end up looking “petty” to Rush because they are calling out the talk radio gas bags for calling them “the drive by media’ well WHO is calling you petty? Rush Limbaugh. He already hates you. But maybe your staff will say, “Thank you for standing up for us since if I came out and rightfully write about Limbaugh then I would be seen as biased.” Limbaugh and his ilk LOVE to throw the line “The media are biased!” all the time and as we have seen they are still bending over backwards to not offend Rush and his ilk.
    (Did you see how I used “and his ilk” twice in a paragraph? I admit it, I love that line. Forgive me.)

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