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reason: Was that columnists or communists?
Harsanyi: Very good. I began my career working in sports--writing for the Associated Press, the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated Online, and Major League Baseball. I reviewed books for the AP as well. Then, at some point I began freelancing on politics and wrote for The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Weekly Standard, and a lot of newspapers. I worked for a short time as a press secretary in Washington. That was before moving to the Post.
reason: As someone working in print, do you think the stories about the end of newspapers are accurate?
Harsanyi: I don't know about "the end," but we're going to have to get a lot more creative and aggressive if we're going to make it work. we've started that process at the Denver Post with projects like PoliticsWest, where I blog. Then again, some of it is beyond our control. When craigslist simply destroys the newspaper classified business, it won't matter how interesting we are as journalists.
reason: What role has the media played with regard to nanny state issues? Are we seeing the sorts of contrarian reporting that focuses on the counterproductive effects of, say, attempts to police all drinking while driving?
Harsanyi: The inclination of the media - and this is natural, not a nanny-state plot - is to focus on the more dramatic and horrible things that happen to us. The media (and I hate using that term, as if the "the media" was a monolithic entity) has a duty to report the ghastly things that happen to children or the ghastly acts of drunk drivers.
Do I wish those things were put into more context? Yes. Do I wish there were more John Stossels out there, taking on sacred cows? I do. But even when the media does the right thing, the public tends to remember the negative. An example: In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control released a horribly flawed study that claims 400,000 Americans die yearly due to obesity. It was the media - mostly The Wall Street Journal - that completely debunked that report. But the initial damage had already been done. Most Americans still believe thousands are dropping dead from french fries.
reason: Thanks very much.