But where does our alma mater fall on the matter of journalism’s
future? It’s an important question, especially given our brand new (and
slightly Usdan-like) Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
For those who don’t know, Robert Allbritton ’92 is the entrepreneur
behind Politico.com, the insurgent beltway gossip newspaper that is
pretty much the only news organization in America making money at the
moment. Allbritton has made a lot of waves with his print/web business
model for journalism, and Wesleyan has been happy to take his money,
tossing him a breathless profile in the Wesleyan Connection in return.
Presumably, Allbritton will be interested in imbuing his ideals on the
Wesleyan student body through his new center for public life. In other
words, expect a journalism class or two in the near future.
But what will be taught in these journalism classes? Will the
professors be pre-approved by Allbritton himself? Will he have a say in
We hope not. In his lust for advertising dollars and shout-outs on
the Drudge Report, Allbritton has squandered a wonderful opportunity in
Politico. Now that Allbritton’s paper has taken down the decaying
Washington Post with its story on backroom influence peddling at the
Post, it has became all too clear: Politico is certainly no
replacement. Politico does not investigate Washington. It fans the
flames of Beltway insanity, bowing down to the television hacks and
cynical “moderate” opinion instead of to the power of actual reporting.
It is trivial, gossipy, and petty.
So say we all.