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That’s Steven Hayward’s headline for today’s post on the (continuing) decline in journalism. It was prompted by a lament in the New York Review of Books by Dean Nicholas Lemann of Columbia, asking Can Journalism Be Saved? Hayward excerpts some of the key points, including Lemann’s rather clueless exposition on the trend towards opinions in disguise on the front pages, after a litany of statistics on the declines in readership, advertising revenues, local papers still publishing, and overall employment in the field. (Hayward says he understands if we consider this the feel-good story of the day. Heh. I do.)
Anyways, I think we know the answer to Lemann’s question, based on the industry’s decades of abuse of their consumers: No, it cannot be saved. At least not in its present form with its present cadre of bloviators. Journalists with no relevant expertise have no business offering “news analysis.”
I’m not sure what will replace the current practice of journalism, though the plethora of special purpose blogs suggests that something of that sort will win in the end, with trusted individuals (or small groups) acting as aggregators. (Think Instapundit and friends.)
I was an early mover in this area, contributing to the decline of journalism all the way back in 1995 when I fired my local paper (Myrtle Beach’s Sun-News) for egregious bias in the coverage of gun control and the concealed carry permit debate. The Internet had not yet sprouted a plethora of blogs, Fox News hadn’t been founded, and Rush was still a fairly new and lonely voice in the wilderness. I have since reveled in the internet’s growing role in the dispersal of information sources and the removal of gatekeepers. I don’t think the genie can be put back in the bottle.
How would you answer Lemann’s lament?Published in