Saturday, June 19, 2010

There is thin-skinned and then there is the MSM

Interesting article by Scott Rosenberg.

Why Can't Journalists Handle Public Criticism?

Why do so many journalists find it so hard to handle public criticism? If you're an athlete, you're used to it. If you're an artist, critics will regularly take you down. If you are in government, the pundits and now the bloggers will show no mercy. If you're in business, the market will punish you.

That's a big, fat juicy question that i've taken a wack at from time to time.

Here's one idea: MSM reporters have been coddled and sequestered for so long that they have become deluded about their popular standing.

The agony of the push media guild

In one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy ends up with the power to read minds. This turns out to be a curse instead of a gift. The thoughts of those around her are raging cacophony of voices inside her head that drives her to madness and the brink of death.

That’s what the internet has done to the people who make their living in the old media. Once they lived in a quiet world where they talked and every one else listened. Their work was rarely criticized. Sometimes they heard whispered praise or demurrals from other guild members but it was all very civilized

He joked his way to an important truth

I think most big-time media personalities labor under the same delusion. They think they are smart, funny, and wildly popular. The horrible thing about the new media is that they (sometimes) find out that it just ain't so.

Maybe they worry that word will get out that much of what passes for big-time journalism is just a sort of childish game. Much of the rest is playing a ventriloquist dummy.

Reporters might be troubled by the gap between the pretensions of their "profession" and the reality of their work.

Scott Shane of the New York Times described his work this way for a CSPAN audience in 2007:

I'm a jounalist whose job it is to explain to others things he does't understand himself.


A typical reporter on deadline calls a couple of people and slaps something into the paper the next day.

It's no wonder that the the guild loves grifters like Conor Friedersdorf. He gives them a reason to ignore their critics ("they're close-minded") and to hope that their dwindling audience will ignore them as well. (See here for an example.)

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