Thursday, March 19, 2009

News of the death of newspapers

Not greatly exaggerated:

And the Dan Rather Award For Outstanding Cluelessness in Journalism goes to whatever Fullerton (Calif.) College student wrote this idiotic editorial in the campus Hornet:

A disturbing trend that also effects newspapers is the rise of the bloggers and the steady increase in their following. There are multiple problems with blogs.
It is impossible to decipher whether or not a blog is being posted by legitimate writers, who have been educated in journalism, or the average Joe, who does not know how to properly write a concise, well-thought out article. Without proper editors, blogs allow themselves to be polluted by unimpressive stories and writing.
Many bloggers also have the tendency of ignoring facts to support their own agendas, effectively eliminating unbiased journalism and creating a plethora of questions regarding ethics. If this trend of growing bloggers continues, newspapers may become glorified blogs themselves. Trying to stay informed in a newspaperless world would be an arduous, time consuming task, of scanning through countless blogs to find unbiased, factual news. We must make sacrifices now, to preserve the future of our profession.

To our award winner -- assuming his or her classmates print out this post and bring it to journalism class or the Hornet office for the edification of their friend, the laughingstock -- let me explain a few things:

  • To begin with, you used "effect" when "affect" was the word you wanted. (Spellcheck doesn't catch homonyms.)
  • If you ever learn "how to properly write a concise, well-thought out article," be sure and let us know.
  • You are absolutely right: Without a "proper" editor, I have quoted your editorial and thus allowed my blog "to be polluted by unimpressive stories and writing."
  • Does it occur to you that "this trend of growing bloggers" includes many people who are "legitimate writers, who have been educated in journalism" and who might be quite happy to work for a newspaper, except that the whole supply-demand thing makes it more lucrative for them to blog?
  • Speaking of "lucrative," as a sideline, I've got a little consulting business teaching newbies to blog. Hit the tip jar, read The Rules, send me an e-mail and let's talk, OK? (Include the word "Cthulhu" in the subject line.)
  • On the other hand, you might be better suited for another online career, as what we call a "concern troll."
  • Has it ever crossed your mind that if newspapers are declining and blogs are growing, then the practicioners of failure ought not take a lecturing tone with the practicioners of success?
In conclusion, my dear clueless Fullerton College Journalism Student, I could summarize my response in two words, but will limit myself to one: Heh.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! I was just working on a long post about Charles Winecoff's Damascus Road apostasy from the gay rights movement, when I took a break and checked my SiteMeter and -- kazart! -- Professor Glenn Reynolds hit me when I wasn't looking. ("You said the secret word," to quote Groucho Marx from "You Bet Your Life.")

Newcomers please click around to the linkage and if you haven't yet contributed to the David Brooks Fisking Fund, then hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards. Tuesday's coming soon.

UPDATE II: Comments are moderated, and servicing the Instalanche traffic thus requires me to put aside the draft of my Winecoff post for a while, so I will ask you to check out Cynthia "Nice Cans" Yockey:
Charles, I came out in 1972 and I have a question for you: "When was the gay and lesbian community EVER nice?" Because I can't think of a time.
Being a strictly objective professional journalist blogger, my ethical code requires that I remain neutral in this pink-on-lavender dispute. My point about Winecoff's disillusionment has more to do with the nature of disillusionment and I don't give a damn about the meta-gayness of this intellectual three-way Jello wrestling match between Winecoff, Yockey and Gay Patriot.

My true interest, of course, is fundamentally professional -- I Write For Money -- and so once again: Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards. (Because life is like a box of chocolates, and my promotional work on the Jello wrestling catfight for Big Sexy is strictly a charitable endeavor.)

UPDATE III: When the going gets weird . . . oh, never mind. I've apologized like a good Christian and maintained my Lenten vow, so my conscience is clean.

Meanwhile, The Comment Field Research Department suggests Hornet editorial page editor Ian Jacobs as the likely culprit in this atrocity against the English language that wins the coveted Rather Award. (Hey, punk, y'ever hear of An Army of Davids?)

35 comments:

  1. He must have been using a plethaurus.

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  2. A hundred years ago in the '80s, I delivered the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Fed my comic book habit. Carrier of the year in my little district. PI, this post's for you. *snif*

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  3. Let me just take one single sentence:

    "Many bloggers also have the tendency of ignoring facts to support their own agendas ..."

    You kinda get what's being said, but that clause is filled with "not quite" infelicities. At a minimum, barbarisms like "have the tendency of" and "ignoring facts to support" should never stand.

    I'd rewrite: "Many bloggers also tend to ignore facts that do not support their agendas..."

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  4. Yeah, Victor, but you're just a blogger. What do you know about a "proper" editor?

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  5. My little brother graduated with a journalism degree..

    He's tending bar now and hoping to get a job with law enforcement.

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  6. Well, even in the heady days of journalism, I advised AGAINST getting a journalism degree.

    Work on the college paper and take some classes as electives (both to get clips) ... sure. But there never was a good reason to get a journalism degree. It never has been a profession or guild that really required certification for reasons of the common weal, like a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. It's always been a craft you learned by doing.

    Using your college years -- the only time in your life you'll have for intellectual pursuits -- to get a journalism degree (or any other pseudo-professional degree IMHO) is a complete waste and always has been.

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  7. Damn Mr. McCain, you were kind. Guess you got a soft spot for aspiring newsmen.

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  8. "this trend of growing bloggers"

    I have not grown an inch.

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  9. When the printing press first began to catch on, the Catholic Church wanted to license the use of them. They were horrified of what might happen is people outside the Church began to communicate with each other via an effective distribution mechanism without "proper editors" (I think you know what "proper" means here as well as in the student article).

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  10. The best thing about blogs is i get to hear the opinions of people who were too smart to waste 4 years on a journo degree

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  11. Everyone ignore that fellow Victor, who is just another damned blogger and doesn't know anything about "real journalistic standards," as I have been trying to tell him fror years.

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  12. TO: McCain, et al.
    RE: You Left Out...

    ...the death of the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Last issue published 27 Feb 2009. The day of the Denver Tea Party.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)

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  13. I'm here as part of the Instalanche.

    Good article.

    Interesting that this morning the estimable Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times had a column publishing almost exactly the same sentiments as Cal State Fullerton sage. (Sorry -- I read it in the dead tree edition, and don't know where it is on the net.)

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  14. FYI, the Twitter site called Themediaisdying is a great compendium of news outlets that are downsizing or closing. (I have no affiliation with it except as a follower.)

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  15. Dead-tree newspapers don't have these kinds of problems. You can count on them to uphold the highest standards of unbiased reporting, in the tradition of Walter Duranty and Jayson Blair.

    -jcr

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  16. "Trying to stay informed in a newspaperless world would be an arduous, time consuming task, of scanning through countless blogs to find unbiased, factual news."

    How about "will be an arduous task" instead? And Dude, back, away, from, the, commas.

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  17. This is the line that leaped out at me:

    "It is impossible to decipher whether or not a blog is being posted by legitimate writers, who have been educated in journalism, or the average Joe, who does not know how to properly write a concise, well-thought out article."

    Hmm, if its "impossible" to tell the work of a journalist from the work of an amateur, then perhaps the value of a journalism degree is just a wee bit inflated? Maybe? Maybe?

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  18. As a once-and-former newspaper editor (now at a real job) and sometime blogger, I would also have pointed out that he meant "determine," not "decipher" (though some blogs, to be fair, may as well be written in code, so indecipherable are they).

    Also, when using a phrase as an adjective, the phrase should be hyphenated: a "well-thought-out" article, not - as Mr. Awesome wrote - an "out" article that is "well-thought."

    Also, it's "the tendency TO ignore facts," the "of ignoring," and as been pointed out, the trend of "growing bloggers" (in test tubes?).

    I weep for the future of journalism.

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  19. Buggy Whip Producers in Tizzy!

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  20. "this trend of growing bloggers"

    South Beach helps.

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  21. Well, if I were the editor . . .

    Original:
    "Many bloggers also have the tendency of ignoring facts to support their own agendas, effectively eliminating unbiased journalism and creating a plethora of questions regarding ethics. If this trend of growing bloggers continues, newspapers may become glorified blogs themselves. Trying to stay informed in a newspaperless world would be an arduous, time consuming task, of scanning through countless blogs to find unbiased, factual news."

    My version:
    "Also, bloggers tend to ignore facts that challenge their agendas. In a world without the unbiased journalism of newspapers, trying to stay informed would require hours of scanning through countless blogs to assemble a full view of the news."

    Of course, being uneducated in journalism (indeed, I'm a high school dropout), I don't know how to write concisely.

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  22. From my blog today:
    With a pulse on the main stream media for balance, I rely heavily on my conservative, digital news sources for up to the minute coverage on current events. So often I feel plugged into a small, inner circle of breaking news because liberal media buries chooses not to report so many things that conservatives find significant and news worthy. Because conservative news sources are increasingly prevalent and pervasive, big media maintains their relevancy with obligatory reporting, which by then, is old news.

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  23. My favorite part:
    He has a problem with inconcise, poorly thought out pieces, professing a preference for the work of professional journalists, but leads that very sentence off with an admission that he can't tell the two apart. It's impossible!

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  24. Insufferable PedantFri Mar 20, 12:11:00 PM

    You wrote:

    "If you ever learn "how to properly write a concise, well-thought out article," be sure and let us know."

    Surely you meant to write

    "... be sure to let us know."

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  25. This student's career in journalism is all but certain. However, in the arena of ideas that bloggers take pride in, not so certain.

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  26. The letter sure sounds like the poorly remembered content of a lecture by a liberal journalism instructor.

    Give the kid a few years to start learning and looking on his own.

    And, please, let newspapers take care of the fundamental issues sinking them, and stop blaming those not making the same mistakes.

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  27. Now look here McCain, I think you pretty well prove the youngster's point. A real journalist would have followed the clues and used them to smear the editorial writer by name based on a couple of unprovable assumptions. For example, there's another Hornet opinion column with the same awkward use of "less" as in "less writers". See "Merit Pay for teachers near impossible".
    Combine that with the fact that this same author is the editor of the Hornet's opinion page and you've got a hit piece worthy of Sixty Minutes. Or at least the Grammar Police version of same.

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  28. Interesting that this morning the estimable Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times had a column publishing almost exactly the same sentiments as Cal State Fullerton sage...

    Nah, not Cal State Fullerton (the Titans), Fullerton College, aka Fullerton Junior College, FJC.

    Go Hornets! Usually.

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  29. "Trying to stay informed in a newspaperless world would be an arduous, time consuming task, of scanning through countless [rags] to find unbiased, factual news."

    But we already do just that with the NYTs and WaPo.

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  30. One wonders what makes the Hornet's front page, Let's see:

    "Downtown area hosts teacher-led protest". Surprise, surprise teachers want to get paid more for less work.

    "Hornets rebound, swarm Cougars". Sports are always ok.

    "Swinging into LA". Now we get into the red meat of journalism. A story about...... Disk Jockeys.

    and finally,

    "Trendsetters a cut above the rest". How cosmetology is changing lives.

    There is no possible way a blog could compete with this content written by "legitimate writers".

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  31. Split infinitive: "to properly write". Stupid unforced error. Very turgid prose.

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  32. March 19, 2009: Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader cuts 14 jobs, implements pay cuts, one week furlough for everyone.
    http://www.kentucky.com/211/story/730956.html

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  33. Someone send this poor soul a copy of Elements of Style. Sorry if this comment is repeated.

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  34. But he wants to Make A Difference, so it's all good.

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  35. Ah come on. Cut the kid some slack. Clearly it was satirical. Masterfully done. The youngster has a promising career ahead working for the Onion. Or the NYT. Same thing really, just a different masthead.

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