The New Journalism

Not long ago, journalists were expected to work stories by getting out of the office and tracking them down. The new breed of online journalists who have replaced them sit on their butts, monitoring tweets in the hope that some celebrity or politician will say something stupid so they can trash them. This is what, in an age of minute budgets, passes for journalism.

10 thoughts on “The New Journalism

  1. But Ted, even in the so-called «old journalism», hasn’t the point always been to confirm the prejudices and promote the interests of the media owners ? As a case in point, consider the New York Times’ reporting on Suharto’s CIA-backed coup in Indonesia in 1965, in which between a half million and one million Indonesians were slaughtered, which, of course, the newspaper duly applauded ; surely journalists and editors were not monitoring Twitter feeds nearly half a century ago ? Things certainly haven’t been getting better recently, with ownership of the media becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, but those «good old days» weren’t so good either….

    Henri

    • Henri, I think you’re conflating two different problems with journalism – conflict of interest, which is what you are describing, and which we saw again, famously is notoriously, when the New York Times endorsed the coup attempt against Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela – and what the cartoon is about, laziness on the part of online journalists who simply monitor Twitter feeds rather than do any research.

      • Good point, Ted, although I’m not certain I would describe the intellectual corruption of which the reporting on the Suharto coup as a prime – but merely one – example ; if there was indeed a «conflict of interest» it was one behind the public’s interest in accurate and reasonably unbiased reporting, and those of the media owners and those behind them, pulling the strings – a conflict which, I’m sure you will agree, persists in augmented form today. Nearly universally, the journalists, then as now, elected for the media owners. You are right, of course, in that the cartoon rather deals with the fact that some of today’s «journalists», can sit on their arses behind their touch monitors and use so-called «social media» to create meaningless «scandals», instead of, like their predecessors, being constrained to expend shoe leather in hunting down earlier, equally meaningless scandals. But to me the more important issue is the fact that ownership of media is even more concentrated today than it was in 1965, when the New York Times celebrated Mr Suharto’s bloody coup ; after all, today’s journalists can work off their couch-potato fat by running on the treadmill at the local gym. Plus ça change, plus c’est la mëme chose….

        Henri

  2. Plus ça change…

    Read Scoop and The Quiet American.

    Waugh and Greene were reporters who were never allowed to write anything except fiction as long as they were reporters. They were allowed to write fact only afterwards, when they called it fiction. Of course, unlike Gawker writers, Waugh actually went to Ethiopia and Greene really went to Vietnam. (Since they worked for British papers, they got paid about as much as Gawker writers.)

    Greene reported on the French-Vietnam war in the early ’50s, then wrote a novel. In the novel, the French censored out any facts that the fictional reporter tried to write, before he could submit. The British government heavily censored what he actually submitted just in case any facts had accidentally slipped through. And his newspaper further censored so only stuff that looked like it would sell newspapers appeared, and no actual facts ever qualified.

    For Waugh, I’m not sure who was in charge to censor before he could submit, but he wrote that one side was supported by the Nazi/Fascists and the other by the Communists. In any case, in his novel, no facts were allowed in any of the reports by his fictional reporters, either.

    Now look at the New York Times. Anyone who has actually been to where they report from knows their foreign correspondents’ reports about what’s happening in the foreign lands about which they write are all lies. But no one who knows that and tries to tell will ever be allowed to do so.

    For those neither authorised nor given a budget to travel all over the world and lie, there’s not much left except to watch Twitter for something mildly outrageous and make it into as major a sensation as an obscure journalist can manage.

    (Of course, Mr Rall actually went to Afghanistan and wrote the truth, but the system was able to completely marginalise his efforts, so only a tiny, impuissant minority ever read it, and none of them seem to be doing anything about it.)

  3. Ted: You should change tedrall.com to a Listicle format. Headlines/Pics/Vids only. No hard analysis. You’d make a mint. You know ….

    1. The Top Ten Evil Things Obama Has Done.
    2. The Top Five Shitty Cartoons Of The Day.
    3. I Can Haz Cheezburger.
    4. Then Top Ten Jihadis the US Has Killed That We’re Actually Wedding Party Attendees.

    I’m telling you, that’s the way to go.

  4. It is a vicious cycle, innit?

    As the pay drops, as the opportunities for personal satisfaction and a sense of doing something meaningful evaporate, there has been a brain drain. As the brain drain continues, there’s less of a sense of doing anything significant. Thus the pay drops even more. Look at HuffPost and DK. Free labor makes the people at the top rich. Most of the content is garbage produced by people on the emotional/intellectual level of a 9-year-old girl having a temper tantrum.

    The NYTimes is little better, choked as it is with anecdote-as-lead articles, pieces about how much house you can buy for $700,000 in New Mexico, and what restaurants in New York City that run to $200 for two for dinner are doing something “innovative” with fusion cuisine.

    Seriously, when was the last time you read a news article discussing how many children the drone program has killed? Not as an in-passing item but as an actual focal point?

    • Oops. Damn the lack of an edit key.

      Replace “As the brain drain continues, there’s less of a sense of doing anything significant.” with “As the brain drain continues, there’s less of a capacity for doing anything significant.”

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