Friday, March 17, 2006

Newspaper Monopoly

A Columbia Journalism Reveiw editorial misses the point. In making the argument that years of monopoly underminded newspapers, they write: [Emphasis mine.]
Whether editors used it well or wasted it, the golden age of monopoly is gone. Newspapers are in competition with everything now, and they have fewer troops to deploy. Editors know this. But it’s not yet clear at some papers that they know it deeply enough to try to lift those troops to levels of creativity that this loss of a news monopoly requires, to help time-pressed reporters make sharper choices, and to remind them over and over that they have qualities that few bloggers or radio jabbermouths or cable talkers come close to supplying: a visceral knowledge of the turf and an ability to report deeply and write with both voice and authority, given time and a little encouragement.
The idiocy of that argument is that journalists where chosen, pre-selected, and the preferred hires for their lack of creativity, for their lack of daring, for their very willingness to write for, and conform to, a newspaper culture that is indistinguishable from the Liberal ideology.

(In fact, it's debatable whether newspaper culture IS the liberal ideology. )

So to ask those "troops" now to be lifted to "levels of creativity" is to deny that the purpose of diversified newsrooms intended -- that hiring be based on lack of excellence. They were hired for loyalty. Not genius, not writing skills, not imagination, not depth of experience. How do you take a college grad with a degree in journalism and teach him to "report deeply" when he has no life experiences and by, virtue of his employment, never will have. You don't. Newspapers never wanted that degree of free thinking or independence.

Journalists live in grey towers of ignorance that self-regard and egotism refuse to acknowledge. They are the brightest and the best because others tell them so. So how do you inject "authority" into someone who moved into the newsroom right after college, had no experiences in the workplace, lives separately from his fellow man?

You don't. That's why newspapers hire sophomoric morons right out of college. That's why they hope they remain sophomoric morons. The only creativity they were ever allowed in their careers was making up quotes and fabrications. The people who despise newsrooms the most are journalists who have a degree of intellect. But the morons rule.

Newspapers know this. The editorial reference to "troops" -- when the MSM regard "troops" as witless pawns -- is more telling than they know.

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