Articles like this remind me that there are those in the news business that care about the news business. That have the old romantic notions of what it means to be a journalist. They are few and they aren’t perfect examples of that either. There is often to be seen a leftist bias that they aren’t perhaps aware is there. In this article they discuss how the New York Times is going to lay off a large number of its copy editors. That’s actually a pretty important job as they are the ones that deal with grammar, syntax, readability, and typos. Things that seem minor on the face of it but can make an otherwise solid piece lose credibility. I know I get frustrated with myself at the numerous errors that creep into my writing. I try to fix them but sometimes discover them long after publication. When dealing with the Internet, corrections to a typo are easy, but in print, it’s impossible.
The article goes on to lament the hardships that the newspaper business has had to face since the creation of Internet news. For me, I use only the Internet as my news source. I don’t even have cable or local channels. I read. I double check what I’ve read, and then learn more about the topic. Not every story of course, that would be impossible, but of those that matter to me.
The author accurately states, “Readers have suffered, too, faced with rising subscription rates, dubiously-placed skimlinks, aggressive listicles, inscrutable paywalls, fifteen to thirty seconds of pre-roll on autoplay. Worse, their curiosity about the world is increasingly rewarded with conformity. As the industry contracts, the perspectives and styles of what were once robust outlets have become fairly uniform, the conversations narrower and increasingly influenced by corporate interests — and we fret relentlessly about why that’s worrisome, or what structural failings have allowed that to happen, because it’s easier than affecting any meaningful change. What are readers supposed to make of a media operation that is often, by necessity, just as consumed with itself as it is with the world beyond?”
Journalism is worth saving but it has to start by producing a product worth buying, worth consuming, and to do so using the traditional rules of capitalism. It is an uphill climb for anyone wanting to accomplish that.
Part of that is a business reaction to competition. The Internet is killing them off one by one. Fixing that will take creative business solutions. They are trying their best to do that without killing of the product. Not easy to do and I sympathize with those who are in positions to make those hard choices. As for the rest of it, I don’t see there being any fix to that without a shift in the thinking of those who write the news. They simply don’t report the news anymore. They echo their own bias. They have a set of ideas that to them represent the way the world should be or is and anything that comes across their desk that doesn’t fit that must be attacked. They can’t stand by and simply report on something when they feel that something represents a great wrong. They fail to understand that their readers may or may not share that. Even for those who do share their views they aren’t well served intellectually by an echo chamber.
In years past, I’d even think to myself, what an exciting time to be in the industry as it evolves! I really did think that. I mean, I thought a lot of things, for sure, because in the end, over-thinking and believing that the terrible situation you’ve found yourself in is interesting and exciting rather than objectionable and bad is a solid way to avoid the reality at hand. It is easier to think, “I am scrappy enough to get through this,” than “I deserve better.”