This Rose Stinks

 

My brother listened and paid attention and as a result, followed my father into the law. The Sunday after he passed the bar, a few of us were grilling and Dad called everybody together for a quick toast. He started out with a bit about how proud Mom would have been. I think that was his intent going in – maternal praise noted by its absence – but he was both the father and a respected member of my brother’s new field. He gave advice and perspective.

“You’re entering a profession,” he said. Or something like that. This was fifteen years ago so I’m paraphrasing as best I can. You can’t hear it but he speaks Mid-Atlantic raised in Maryland with forty-seven years of Alabama residency leaning in. “Your clients aren’t customers. You aren’t in business.” He went on in that vein about duties and backbone, disappointing with honesty when needed. It was a good toast. Not as good as the one at my cousin Andrew’s wedding, but that was the benchmark and it’s not fair to compare. It was obviously something he’d been hoping for the opportunity to say since my brother’s first year at law school and you could tell there was thought and maybe some shower rehearsal in it, but he blended intent and spontaneity.

Another similar moment: I was working in real estate and we had a company gathering. I think it was a cookout, too. The president banged a rock or something. A plastic fork against a solo cup doesn’t make the right crowd-silencing pay-attention noise, but he did something and we did as hoped. What I expected was “We’ve had a great year!” and “Thanks for doing what you do!” to make everybody happy. Instead he talked about property rights and personal agency. “We,” he said, and I’m again letting time be my excuse for imprecise recollection, “see it every day so we take for granted what ownership means to the first-time buyer.” He talked about responsibility, defiance, and equality. There wasn’t any jargon or strung together buzz words. What he said would freeze the blood of any motivational sales speaker. He told us why he does what he does and why it’s important without regard to success.

I know at least one good journalist. He and I disagree on just about everything politically, but he doesn’t let his nonsense views affect his work. For most of my lifetime, it’s been obvious to me that people like him are outliers. I’ve been waiting for a veil slip big enough for even the most poker-faced grifters to think they’ve gone too far. Hiding an enfeebled President seems bad enough that some prefer to be thought gullible enough not to notice that the President is enfeebled. The smart ones are shocked, “Shocked!” that those rascally insiders were so talented at hiding what would have doubtless been reported if not so well hidden.

Journalists need to retire the word “journalism” for a while. It’s become a punch line instead of a profession. No one believes them when they wax over the ideals they pretend to. Progressives became liberals and then went back to being progressives when they convinced everybody that eugenics was the other side’s game (“They switched!… except when Wilson suspended the press, they switched back and then back again, and once more when FDR locked up the Japanese, but not before that because we still get the TVA but back again after… the parties switched a lot.”). Journalists should call themselves something else; wherever the taint ain’t. I remember a sci-fi story in which they were called “drudges.” Maybe “newsies?” Pretend to be “journalists” again in a few decades. Right now, the word’s embarrassing.

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  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Ben,

    This was superb, the sort of thing that makes Ricochet worthwhile.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Ben Sears: wherever the taint aint.

    You can change the name, but it still smells as rancid.

    • #2
  3. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    After all these years, I still think of journalism as merely the least efficient segment of the entertainment industry.

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Yes

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Ben Sears: I know at least one good journalist. He and I disagree on just about everything politically, but he doesn’t let his nonsense views affect his work. For most of my lifetime it’s been obvious to me that people like him are outliers. I’ve been waiting for a veil slip big enough for even the most poker faced grifters to think they’ve gone too far. Hiding an enfeebled President seems bad enough that some prefer to be thought gullible enough not to notice that the President is enfeebled. The smart ones are shocked, “Shocked!” that those rascally insiders were so talented at hiding what would have doubtless been reported if not so well hidden.

    I confess to feeling a morsel of sympathy for the plight of the White House Press Corps. Theirs is a fine line to walk. Either confess to always having known the president’s state and personally “lacking candor” as the FBI puts it, or confess to being a total numpty, hoodwinked by the oh-so-clever White House staff.

    Personally, there is nothing that could get me to cop to coming in second in a battle of wits with Karine Jean-Pierre, but that’s just me.

    • #5
  6. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Think of all the boozy, ink-stained wretches of the classic movies about reporters made back before it was a “profession” ( you know what other line of work is a “profession”?). 

    Those grimy wretches were ten times better at the trade than all of today’s over-credentialed milksops, who “want to make a difference.”

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Think of all the boozy, ink-stained wretches of the classic movies about reporters made back before it was a “profession” ( you know what other line of work is a “profession”?).

    Those grimy wretches were ten times better at the trade than all of today’s over-credentialed milksops, who “want to make a difference.”

    And who may have spent a fortune on “journalism school” to learn how.

    • #7
  8. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Fritz: Think of all the boozy, ink-stained wretches of the classic movies about reporters made back before it was a “profession” ( you know what other line of work is a “profession”?).

    Those grimy wretches were ten times better at the trade than all of today’s over-credentialed milksops, who “want to make a difference.”

    You mean law? It took until 1957 before all nine justices of the United States Supreme Court had law degrees. On the other hand, j-schools have been a thing since 1899 (1908 in the U.S.), about 3 years younger than the voodoo of clinical psychology.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Fritz: Think of all the boozy, ink-stained wretches of the classic movies about reporters made back before it was a “profession” ( you know what other line of work is a “profession”?).

    Those grimy wretches were ten times better at the trade than all of today’s over-credentialed milksops, who “want to make a difference.”

    You mean law? It took until 1957 before all nine justices of the United States Supreme Court had law degrees. On the other hand, j-schools have been a thing since 1899 (1908 in the U.S.), about 3 years younger than the voodoo of clinical psychology.

     

     

    So?  Law schools started in 1779.

    • #9
  10. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Fritz (View Comment):
    Think of all the boozy, ink-stained wretches of the classic movies about reporters made back before it was a “profession” ( you know what other line of work is a “profession”?). 

    Dentistry?

    • #10
  11. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    kedavis (View Comment): So? Law schools started in 1779.

    The point being you didn’t need a degree to practice law but no one would say it wasn’t a profession. The same for doctors. North Carolina led the nation by creating the first state medical board in 1859 and like their law brethren, you only had to pass the exam, not have a degree. That is a 20th Century thing.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment): So? Law schools started in 1779.

    The point being you didn’t need a degree to practice law but no one would say it wasn’t a profession. The same for doctors. North Carolina led the nation by creating the first state medical board in 1859 and like their law brethren, you only had to pass the exam, not have a degree. That is a 20th Century thing.

    You know another point that shows journalism isn’t the same kind of “profession?”  They don’t carry malpractice insurance, like doctors and lawyers do.

    • #12
  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment): So? Law schools started in 1779.

    The point being you didn’t need a degree to practice law but no one would say it wasn’t a profession. The same for doctors. North Carolina led the nation by creating the first state medical board in 1859 and like their law brethren, you only had to pass the exam, not have a degree. That is a 20th Century thing.

    You know another point that shows journalism isn’t the same kind of “profession?” They don’t carry malpractice insurance, like doctors and lawyers do.

    Are you sure about that?  Do you know that newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations do not carry insurance in case they are sued for defamation?

    • #13
  14. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment): So? Law schools started in 1779.

    The point being you didn’t need a degree to practice law but no one would say it wasn’t a profession. The same for doctors. North Carolina led the nation by creating the first state medical board in 1859 and like their law brethren, you only had to pass the exam, not have a degree. That is a 20th Century thing.

    You know another point that shows journalism isn’t the same kind of “profession?” They don’t carry malpractice insurance, like doctors and lawyers do.

    Are you sure about that? Do you know that newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations do not carry insurance in case they are sued for defamation?

    Organizations, yes.  To protect the organizations.  But not individual journalists, the way doctors and lawyers do.

    • #14
  15. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    kedavis: Organizations, yes. To protect the organizations. But not individual journalists, the way doctors and lawyers do.

    It’s called E&O insurance (for “Errors and Omissions”) and many freelancers do choose to carry it, even though most publications they write for carry it themselves.

    And for what it’s worth, only 7 of our 50 states make medical malpractice insurance mandatory. And Oregon is the only state that makes it mandatory for lawyers.

    • #15
  16. Ben Sears Member
    Ben Sears
    @BenMSYS

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment): So? Law schools started in 1779.

    The point being you didn’t need a degree to practice law but no one would say it wasn’t a profession. The same for doctors. North Carolina led the nation by creating the first state medical board in 1859 and like their law brethren, you only had to pass the exam, not have a degree. That is a 20th Century thing.

    You know another point that shows journalism isn’t the same kind of “profession?” They don’t carry malpractice insurance, like doctors and lawyers do.

    Are you sure about that? Do you know that newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news organizations do not carry insurance in case they are sued for defamation?

    Organizations, yes. To protect the organizations. But not individual journalists, the way doctors and lawyers do.

    I wonder if there’s an Errors and Omissions type journalism policy for freelancers? There are a lot of platforms like Substrate where individuals set up shop.  It seems like there would be, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it. Surely on Twitter I’d have seen a retweet of someone’s near libel or horrid take with a comment like “Sometimes E&O premiums are about to go up.” Now I’m curious. 

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Law schools started in 1779.

    1088 in Bologna.

    • #17
  18. Ben Sears Member
    Ben Sears
    @BenMSYS

    EJHill (View Comment):

    kedavis: Organizations, yes. To protect the organizations. But not individual journalists, the way doctors and lawyers do.

    It’s called E&O insurance (for “Errors and Omissions”) and many freelancers do choose to carry it, even though most publications they write for carry it themselves.

    And for what it’s worth, only 7 of our 50 states make medical malpractice insurance mandatory. And Oregon is the only state that makes it mandatory for lawyers.

    I think I was asking the question as you were answering. Thanks.

    • #18
  19. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Ben Sears: I wonder if there’s an Errors and Omissions type journalism policy for freelancers?

    Of course there is. Here’s what the Society for Professional Journalists has to say about it.

    No one is more critical of the media than I am, but having been on the inside for four decades I at least have a pretty decent idea of what’s going on. For everyone else it’s become mostly a sport.

    Yet, most of everyone’s opinions of the news of the day is completely dependent on what they read, see and hear that’s produced by the country’s professional journalists and broadcast technicians. Naw, they say, I get my news from some rando on Twitter. Yeah? And where did they get it?

    Rush Limbaugh used to talk about his “stack of stuff” and 99% was all produced by the mainstream media.

    • #19
  20. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Ben Sears: Journalists need to retire the word “journalism” for a while. It’s become a punch line instead of a profession. No one believes them when they wax over the ideals they pretend to.

    This sounded like an idea to call it something else. And I agree, the ideals seem hollow these days. The whole sudden turn on Biden is emblematic. 

    I’d like to have a “trusted name in news” but that seems a pipe dream. I’d settle for everyone to be honest on their bias. 

     

     

     

    • #20
  21. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    EJHill (View Comment):
    And for what it’s worth, only 7 of our 50 states make medical malpractice insurance mandatory. And Oregon is the only state that makes it mandatory for lawyers.

    EJ, do you have a citation on this?  I have been licensed in five states (CT, DE, HI, MA, PA) and had to have insurance in all but Hawaii, where I never actually practiced.

    • #21
  22. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):
    And for what it’s worth, only 7 of our 50 states make medical malpractice insurance mandatory. And Oregon is the only state that makes it mandatory for lawyers.

    EJ, do you have a citation on this? I have been licensed in five states (CT, DE, HI, MA, PA) and had to have insurance in all but Hawaii, where I never actually practiced.

    Oh, those slippery insurance salesmen!

    • #22
  23. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    https://ricochet.com/1529218/pit-24-welcome-bold-adventurer/comment-page-866/#comment-7231066

     

    • #23
  24. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    When grownups write for grownup readers, facts, perspective, proportion, and integrity matter.  When adolescents produce linkbait for other adolescents…

    • #24
  25. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Doctor Robert: EJ, do you have a citation on this? I have been licensed in five states (CT, DE, HI, MA, PA) and had to have insurance in all but Hawaii, where I never actually practiced.

    I got it from an insurance industry website but I think they may have misinterpreted someone else’s reporting. The source says only seven states have minimum coverage requirements. (Small Business Chronicle). By the way those seven are Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. But, of course, as long as lawyers exist doctors need malpractice insurance. 

    • #25
  26. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):
    But, of course, as long as lawyers exist doctors need malpractice insurance. 

    And, of course, as long as other lawyers exist, lawyers need it too.

    • #26
  27. Yarob Coolidge
    Yarob
    @Yarob

    Tom and Ray Magliozzi on Car Talk used to have fun at the expense of those with a degree in the history of art (how useless it was, how it was such a terrible investment, and so on). A more worthy target would have been degrees in journalism. In a perfectly ordered universe, the academic side of the subject would be covered in a month or so: journalistic ethics, defamation law, the distinction between the business and news/creative sides of a publication, the Freedom of Information Act, etc. Everything else, including writing, editing, and interviewing, would be learnt on the job. Four years to become a journalist? Just another regrettable consequence of credentialism and the higher education scam generally.

    • #27
  28. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Yarob: Four years to become a journalist? 

    When I got my degree there were history and political science requirements, a semester spent on First Amendment Law, then courses on Administrative Law for such things as the FTC and commercial production, production courses on ENG journalism and a practicum. And then I still wasn’t ready for that first job.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Yarob: Four years to become a journalist?

    When I got my degree there were history and political science requirements, a semester spent on First Amendment Law, then courses on Administrative Law for such things as the FTC and commercial production, production courses on ENG journalism and a practicum. And then I still wasn’t ready for that first job.

    Okay, so, after all that, can you explain why so many degreed journalists are so ignorant of history, politics, First Amendment, etc?

    • #29
  30. EJHill Staff
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    kedavis: Okay, so, after all that, can you explain why so many degreed journalists are so ignorant of history, politics, First Amendment, etc?

    Do I really have to tell you how damn old I am? I’m old school for a reason.

    I know I got an exceptional education on the legal side of media because the Dean of my school also taught at the law school. He tried on many occasions to turn me to the dark side but I never bit.

    • #30
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