The new New Journalism

Check out Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone

REACTIONS & REJOINDERS

The new New Journalism
Tue June 29, 2010
Check out Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone
Not long ago I wrote that Matt Taibbi was the reason I still subscribe to Rolling Stone. Here's a piece from next month's issue that reinforces that.

When I was a kid I supposed I'd go to law school. But when the time came to apply to graduate school, in those days it was the days of Watergate. I thought all our institutions were being tossed like a salad - and they were - but, callow boy that I was, I misread the future. I thought that as a result of the day's events the institutions of journalism would naturally be sucked into the vacuum that the decay of trust in government was creating. There did come to be such a vacuum and it's still there, but my belief that existing journalistic institutions would rise in influence was ass-backwards. In fact, when it became clear to those in power that the Fourth Estate was potentially growing in influence, these institutions were promptly co-opted. And those who were not co-opted were effectively undermined. Some loon - I think it was Scaife - put in a bid to buy CBS in those days for the expressed purpose of becoming "Dan Rather's boss" and he damn near succeeded. Someone else outbid him, but when the dust settled Dan Rather was neutered. It's happened over and over again, to the point that the institutions of journalism became part and parcel of the power establishment and of necessity new types of institutions have begun to rise to fill the gaps. Maybe they'll make the world a better place someday, but meanwhile they're just making it a more confusing place.

I never did go to law school, and I did get an advanced degree in journalism from a hot Ivy League university, and many people who knew me supposed it was really because I had this abiding need to be Clark Kent when I grew up and maybe that was correct to some extent. Many of the people from my journalsim school class made good in the field; most of them have conducted their careers with skill and integrity. But education in journalsim matters less with regard to success in journalism than it ever has. What you get instead, as Mr Taibbi so spicily observes, is creatures like Lara Logan. And she does look great on camera, in or out of combat gear, but really ...

So it came to pass after graduate school that I generally conducted my career as I had before graduate school - by making shit up. I seem to be good at it, in a time when it's not very profitable to tell the truth.

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