Someone Else Will Fix Journalism

Virgo, who knows that things around here have been a little too calm and collected lately, sends me thisto make me add to the marks on the wall from where the shoes usually land WHEN I THROW THEM:

L. Gordon Crovitz is the former publisher of the WSJ, who stepped down in 2007, but still writes a column for the paper. Today—notseveralyearsago, but today!—Crovitzasks, “What happens to in-depth reporting in the age of the blog post?”

Real interesting question, L. Gordon. We are salivating to hear the expertise of a man who is a highly paid media industry advisor andboard member of several media companies. Let’s jump right toyour conclusion:

The tumult in the news industry is driven by declines in advertising revenues. Readers still value news, both light blog posts and in-depth reporting. Some journalism will be unpaid, but the kind that makes a difference-that finds and questions Pol Pots and drug lords-will continue to cost money. We need to find ways of paying for it.

“We need to find ways of paying for it.”—the complete proposal of a man who actuallyco-founded a company dedicated to helping newspapers make money off online readers. (The fact that he is writing vague columns about the problem years later will tell you how successful his company was at solving the problem in question.)

“We” need to find ways of paying for it. Who is we? I wish someone would ask this guy because 9 times out of 10 when someone says we he means somebody else.

I was at this “future of journalism” panel a few years back, and the panelists were talking about starting their own news sites and working freelance and doing all the stuff that people are doing now in order to tell the stories they care about telling. And some knob in the audience yelled out, “But who pays your rent while you do that?”

JESUS GOD, you do. You do what everybody who wants to do something forever has always had to do and you figure it out on your goddamn own. This isn’t me waxing romantic about the noble poverty of the artist, by the way, but I have a day job, until recently had two day jobs, and every week or so I just wish someone would give me like $30,000 so I could just do this all day. Guess what? THAT ISN’T EVER GOING TO HAPPEN. I can sit around for the rest of my life wishing somebody would pay me to do it, or I can do it and find ways of making it work.

Stuff like the above is not helpful. It’s always somebody else’s problem. Somebody else always has to step up. Somebody else always has to manage this. And at no point does it occur to any of the comfortably situated loudmouths talking about how great things used to be that if they wanted to, they could solve this problem their own goddamn selves instead of wishing for their handsome prince to come.

After the last ten years of wittering around about who or what is going to “save journalism” I would hope to God we have finally come to the conclusion that the only people who are going to “save journalism” are the ones who goddamn want to, so can we please quit noticing the water’s rising and pick up some buckets and start bailing? The handsome prince is not coming. Maybe a fraction of the dollars spent wondering where he is and how to find him could pay some reporter somewhere.


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