There are times when I wonder at my own presumption, writing a column intended mostly for journalists out there in the trenches. It’s been 13 years since I worked in a newsroom, and those have been some of the most eventful years this industry has ever known.
I know that we’re all sick of hearing about it, but I have to talk a bit longer about the so-called “Beer Summit.” To his credit, President Obama called out the fact that while it was “… a clever term…” the “Beer Summit” was not a summit.
As the week began, Time Magazine political sage Mark Halperin offered “5 reasons to bet AGAINST major health care reform passing this year.” His first four reasons were logical, if debatable—that one sixth of the economy “can’t be remade..
This moment in the history of journalism is like being present at the Big Bang, and reality has turned inside out. Mighty and once-monolithic outlets are going poof! into black holes, and the news business itself is disintegrating into a million little pieces. Meanwhile, an audience which used to consist of billions of individuals is congealing into one gigantic, sticky web...
“Journalism isn’t dying. More people than ever are consuming news.” This is said to me by someone with the best of intentions. I’m meant to see this as a reason for feeling positive, optimistic. A sunny little factoid pulled from a statistic that I don’t necessarily believe or trust.
Truly, the End Times are upon us. The Rocky Mountain News is kaput. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is now online-only, with a skeleton staff. Since 2001, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism and figures from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the print industry has lost about 16 percent of its newsroom jobs.
Yeah, the gig here is Talking Journalism. But it’s hard to deny the connection the week after hundreds of journalists at the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times and elsewhere took a big pay cut, apparently necessary because the companies they work for aren’t making money.
The British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said that a week is a long time in politics, so 15 years since the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s seems a lifetime. When the victorious ANC leader Jacob Zuma is sworn in as president he will be the third ANC leader, the third black politician and the first Zulu to hold that position.
Personal attacks are all the rage these days in both politics and journalism. It’s as though anyone coming upon a policy or a news story with which he or she disagrees is constitutionally incapable of criticizing the policy or story without also proclaiming that the advocate of the policy and/or the writer of the story is not simply ill-advised, but the lowest form of animal life.
As a new president, Congress, and states set new agendas and spending priorities, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem, and why it’s so hard to keep our waters clean in FRONTLINE’s Poisoned Waters, airing Tuesday, April 21, 2009, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings).
Mark Twain had it right when it comes to lightning and lightning bugs. Distinctions matter when we decide which word to use. Take the socialist label, for example, and whether Barack Obama is one. If you use "socialist" correctly, Obama is not one - and nobody else is, either.
Go home, shut the bathroom door, look straight at the mirror and repeat after me: It's possible I don't have the answer. Maybe I don't know. My story could be ... wrong. There - doesn't that feel better? Acceptance of infallibility puts you on the road to real answers.