Monday, July 17, 2006

Brad DeLong and the crisis of modern journalism

The president propagandizes (lies) about tax cuts paying for themselves. Journalists, with the honorable exceptions of the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, respond with he said/she said stories. DeLong blows a gasket.

I must be in the Zeitgeist. This is a more topical variant on the topic I raised earlier today -- why are journalists (and politicians) so disconnected from knowledge?

Here's my theory on the he said/she said practice that's destroyed modern jounalism, and, claims DeLong, threatens our society.

Newspapers are weak nowadays. Their business models (advertising) are under threat. Rove has perfected techniques to punish the disobedient. Journalists fear for their jobs and livelihood. The he said/she said routine allows one to tell half the truth -- without offending the powerful. Why should a journalist point out the president is lying, and lose their job, when nobody seems to care?

Oh wait, I've pointed the finger at the American people again. Funny how that works in a democracy. In this case, though, there is a mitigating factor. The economic collapse of newspapers is driven by technological transformation, not the result of societal disinterest alone. If our society endures we'll find a replacement for newspapers, but in the meantime their failing business model is hurting all of us ...

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