I don’t take kindly to people — especially people in the journalism industry — saying that what I do for a living is part of a dying art or taking shots at the industry itself. Yes, I know newspapers aren’t in the shape they were, say, 20 to 30 years ago. But as far as I’m concerned, they’re far from dead. And that’s where I take issue with some comments Henry Blodget made in a response to Dan Reimold’s reaction to a New York Times Magazine article that profiled Business Insider Deputy Editor Joe Weisenthal.
Now that that mouthful of a description is out of the way, I’ll get to my point.
I have no issue with the profile on Weisenthal or anything along those lines. My issue is with how Blodget responded to comments made about Weisenthal. I’ll take it point by point.
“The professor seems appalled that Joe Weisenthal loves to work so much. Perhaps that’s because, in the past couple of decades of print journalism, life had been so good that print journalists got used to not having to work much.”
Insinuating that it’s a good thing that large (not community) newspapers are vanishing is extremely frustrating. There isn’t a journalist I know who likes the idea of a slow newsroom or not having to work hard for a story. My current newsroom is slow some days, busy others. But that’s how EVERYTHING is, in any industry. And, if anything, print journalists have to work twice as hard (even on a slow day) to make up for the layoffs and forced restructuring that is doing its best to cripple print newsrooms across the country.
“In a world in which millions of sources of information are a click away, having a talented journalist monitor and filter and add smart context to that global information fire hose in real time is extremely valuable to readers… That’s why Joe Weisenthal and other talented digital writers write fast and speak conversationally (TV news hosts do the same thing–they just do it on camera). If the professor worked in a profession in which news mattered, he might have more appreciation for that.”
Since when is teaching young journalists not a profession in which news matters?? If journalism professors can’t properly communicate the news, how to write it/broadcast it/etc., and ways to effectively communicate information to the masses, then what’s the point?
Overall, it seems contradictory to complain about and bash print journalism and to try and portray digital journalism as the be-all, end-all of the journalism industry, when most journalists start out in print. He goes on to say that he doesn’t want a print journalist or a TV journalist, he wants digital journalists to work for him. But you can’t have one without the other. All the skills are intertwined. Print journalists use Twitter for real-time coverage about a story they’re working on for the next print issue. TV journalists write versions of their stories to supplement the video package.
Everything is integrated now. There’s no such thing as a print journalist, a TV journalist or a digital journalist. It’s all the same thing. The only thing that needs to be looked at it is which skills does an individual have the most experience in, what’s their specialty?
When journalists are scrutinized so closely by everyone with an opinion, ready and waiting to point out the tiniest flaw, journalists shouldn’t be taking shots at each other via blog posts. (Though I realize this blog kind of contradicts that point.) They can have healthy debates, sure. But to denounce one form of journalism in favor of another just makes the whole industry look bad as far as I’m concerned.