Kathleen Parker: Rush Destroyed Newspapers [Kevin D. Williamson]
A real head-scratcher from Kathleen Parker today, in which she argues that conservative media criticism has destroyed newspaper journalism. The problem, it seems, is the critics, not the biased/lazy/sloppy/frequently ignorant/boring/predictable media that give Rush and the gang so much to criticize. Or as Roy Peter Clark argued, the problem isn't media bias, it's bias against the media. American readers, it seems, are too stupid to appreciate the fine daily journalism that is being delivered to them. This seems to me a howlingly laughable proposition.
Parker seems to have a slightly idealized view of how the conventional media operates. She doesn't give any indication of ever having worked in a regular newsroom:
Constant criticism of the "elite media" is comical to most reporters, whose paychecks wouldn't cover Limbaugh's annual dry cleaning bill. The truly elite media are the people most Americans have never heard of — the daily-grind reporters who turn out for city council and school board meetings. Or the investigative teams who chase leads for months to expose abuse or corruption.
That is, of course, precisely the sort of journalism that does not get done often enough. And that's because so many of the journalists in those roles are so truly awful. City-council and school-board reporters are notorious for being captured by their beats and serving the interests of their sources rather than their readers. (Police beat reporters are the worst on that front.) Most U.S. newspapers no longer have anything like regular "investigative teams who chase leads for months." These desks have been gutted. Compare today's Philadelphia Inquirer or Boston Globe to those papers 20 or 30 years ago. The investigative newspaper reporter is, alas, for the most part a character of popular fiction. Parker seems a bit out of touch here.
Parker goes on to learn about the future of non-elite journalism from ... a Harvard professor, who talks about the possibility of delivering news via the video games that we hear all them crazy kids are into these days. (No, I only wish I were joking.)
In a related development ...
As Media Blog readers have no doubt noticed, I like to keep up with my hometown newspaper (and onetime employer), the venerable Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, which recently yanked Parker out of its designated conservative spot on the commentary page. The editor says he thought the syndicate might have listed her as a conservative by mistake. (I can see how he got that impression.) "So I called the syndicate to check," he writes. "Yes, I was told, she's one of their conservatives. Over the past couple of weeks, that wasn't always clear." Apparently there was a little reader-revolt against presenting Parker as a conservative.
03/15 06:05 PMShare