More on Kass’s fail fromWhet:
Sure, there’s no direct quality control system for blogging, insofar as bloggers don’t have bosses who can take away their WordPress passwords. But there is QC in the way that virtually all media work—writers who are good and smart and reliable gain audiences, while those who are bad and dumb and wrong lose them. As a result, a lot of good, nonprofessional writers have come to the attention of good professional writers, enriching the knowledge of general readers.
Like Trib editor Gerry Kern, Kass tries to argue that the newsroom is a separate operation from the corporate suite or the rest of the company – as if it doesn’t matter what the boys upstairs do. But it does matter. When executives make decisions about marketing strategy, for example, that dictate sending reporters and resources to cover affluent communities instead of city neighborhoods or poor suburbs so their demographic can be presented to advertisers, that’s a perversion of the values Kass thinks his newspaper holds. When the Trib website becomeslittered with “Comic Con Hotties” and “Hot Sports Wives & Girlfriends,” that’s an editorial matter influenced – explicitly or implicitly – from the top.
For the record, I have ZERO problem with Comic Con Hotties. I just have a problem with people who publish Comic Con Hotties then smacking around everybody else for being the purveyors of ruination and despair while holding themselves above it all as pure and virtuous and beyond reproach from the masses.
Look, this is the entire origin of the “I’m killing journalism” joke. It’s mocking the pretense that any one medium is pure by virtue of that medium. It’s stupid and unecessary. Just admit that you’re like everybody else, doing good stuff that should be lauded and stupid shit just for fun, and that you make venal and nasty and racist decisions based on the desire for a buck and that’s how it is, and I’ll stop mocking you from my mother’s basement. Stop demanding to be treated like a church when your bosses are running cons that make Boardwalk Empire look like a documentary, and I’ll stop pointing out that your saintly act is full of shit.
For what it’s worth, I think most reporters do genuinely think of what they do as public service. I know I did. I was and am proud that for a decade I never had to wonder if what I was doing made a difference in the world. I knew it for sure. It’s the place from which all my rage at the current state of newspapers comes, because people who do feel that way are being lied to and stolen from and treated like dirt, but not by bloggers. By their bosses. By their ownership. By a system that declares that their service should be directed to where a profit can be made instead of a difference, and then demands that they hold to a standard of high-mindedness the higher-ups never apply to themselves.
So run Comic Con Hotties. Describe some neighborhoods as violent and cover violence there as par for the course while other communities are “quiet” and “good” and a stolen bike merits a full-scale police crackdown. But for the love of God stop bitching when somebody happens to point out that this is all just crap you made up, and don’t demand canonization for it. Either improve yourselves, or admit you’re just like everybody else, earning your stripes one day and fucking up the next. You’ve got to pick, though. Doing it both ways just makes you look weak.