It Was the Uncertainties of Working a Six-Figure Job in a Highly Profitable Industry That Made Me Do it!

Writing in the Washington Post this weekend, Jim Hoagland produces a novel apologia for the New York Times' pathetically misfired rumor-mongering about John McCain's love life:

I don't think the Times, one of the world's great newspapers, published its account out of political bias or for titillation. A better question is this: What effect did a string of well-publicized, morale-damaging crises in the newsroom, as well as the industry's darkening economic skies, have on the decision to print before the story was ready?

Better question? If that question even rises to the level of non-retarded, a much "better" follow-up is this: Given the apparent agony of toiling for top dollar in the thankless obscurity of the country's most respected news pages, how can the rest of us less-tenured journalistic life forms possibly resist the temptation to lie our faces off every goddamned morning? If economic security dictates truthiness, does that make every freelancer a fabulist, every college newspaper a collage of thinly sourced titillation?

Hoagland has two more Pulitzers than I'll ever own, so take it for what it is. But it never ceases to amaze me how one of America's last classes of cradle-to-grave employees -- Hoagland's been WashPosting since before I was born -- publicly conflates its own late-breaking career insecurities with the very fate of capital-D Democracy, and expects the rest of us to weep along at home. Then, when the grandees screw the pooch, they either blame the customer or the very (shudder) idea of competition itself. How 'bout just doing a better job next time?

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  • ||

    Maybe I just don't understand because I'm not a journalist, but would a series of disasters that threaten the NYT lead them to be particularly careful about making sure a story was ready?

  • Matt Welch||

    You'd think.

  • M||

    If economic security dictates truthiness, does that make every freelancer a fabulist, every college newspaper a collage of thinly sourced titillation?


    And conversely, the reliability of a government-owned press, such as Pravda, would be unimpeachable. Yeah, that's it.

  • Human From Earth||

    This pravda?

    http://english.pravda.ru/

  • M||

    Uh, no.

  • ||

    Hoagland has two more Pulitzers than I'll ever own

    Awww, and you didn't even bust out the Coulter-crowd's "Duranty SUX!" chant.

    Boo.

  • LarryA||

    I thought about showing this story to my wife, given that she is the reporter on the weekly Hill Country Community Journal, covering all the news in our town in her 60-70 hour week. But she doesn't need the aggravation.

    Even in the year when she had two newspapers (one of which she was running) sold out from under her and shut down, she never let office problems compromise the integrity of her reporting.

  • T||

    I dunno, Matt, you're still young. Well, young-ish, anyway. Maybe by the time you're his age, you could have a Pulitzer.

  • ||

    I dunno, Matt, you're still young. Well, young-ish, anyway. Maybe by the time you're his age, you could have a Pulitzer.

    Yeah, but if he has to acquire Hoagland's ethics to get it, it might be just as well to pass the honor by...

    Seriously, does this say more about the quality of Welch's journalism, or the integrity of the Pulitzer as a recognition of merit?

  • ||

    Are "traditional" media outlets becoming less important because of the wide variety of other sources of news and information, or are he wide variety of other sources of news and information becoming more important because people don't trust "traditional" media outlets?

    They're digging their own grave with this stuff.

  • ||

    how can the rest of us less-tenured journalistic life forms possibly resist the temptation to lie our faces off every goddamned morning?

    Give in to temptation.

  • Fluffy||

    The only problem with the Times piece is that they weren't clever enough to structure it as a commentary on the internet, the way the AP structures all their smear pieces.

    Instead of covering the rumor itself as news, all you have to do is cover the internet chatter about the rumor as news. The AP has done stories about "internet rumors" and "chain emails" asserting that Obama is a Muslim or a Manchurian candidate - by structuring the story that way, you can repeat the smear you want to repeat, but avoid responsibility for directly asserting the smear journalistically.

  • Episiarch||

    Hold on. People still respect the NYT? You sure about that?

    I think that most people don't even trust the crossword to be correct, let alone the news. This does not only apply the to the Old Grey Lady, it applies to just about every source of news. People watch the sources that fit their biases.

  • ||

    People watch the sources that fit their biases.

    Some people. Locally, I read the MSM rags, the local alt weekly, the local African American weekly and the local gay weekly. A curious person reads opposition and different demographic news sources. It helps keep you honest.

  • ||

    People watch the sources that fit their biases.

    I pretty much just read Reason and fredoneverything.net. So, yeah.

  • T||

    People watch the sources that fit their biases.

    Hmm. I get most of my news from here and Fark. It's a wonder I have any idea what's going on in the world besides botched police raids and people doing stupid crap.

  • PC||

    Ehh...I still have egg on my face from the NYTimes article. I thought there was no way that they didn't have anything else, especially when McCain issued his nondenial. It just baffles me that they started shooting with insufficient ammo. I thought they were deliberately setting a trap, hoping for a denial and Rush to come to his aide, and then they drop the rest of the story. Turns out they just wanted to help out McCain create a base. I hate when all sides cooperate like that.

  • ||

    Matt,
    I heard you on XM pimping Myth of a Maverick this morning. They let you ramble on for quite a bit. I think you need to work on that public speaking thing. You sounded anxious and stuttered quite a bit.

  • ||

    I find that you have to read most news articles while keeping in mind that "the author had a deadline to get a story submitted", so a good deal of the "story" is, at best, overblown and, at worst, fiction.

  • Matt Welch||

    Warren -- That was my 2nd worst performance out of 60 or so interviews. I was told we'd be talking explicitly about the Keating Five scandal; they changed the interview time four different times over the course of one calendar morning, and I woke up on the wrong side of the barn.

  • ||

    You need to make a point of laying down the smack more often, Matt. That was fun.

  • Jennifer||

    Hoagland has two more Pulitzers than I'll ever own

    And Cambodia-bomber Henry Kissinger has more Nobel Peace Prizes than you. What's your point?

  • ||

    ...they changed the interview time four different times over the course of one calendar morning...

    Is a 'calendar morning' longer or shorter than a 'morning'?

  • tiffany||

    That was my 2nd worst performance out of 60 or so interviews. I was told we'd be talkinexplicitly about the Keating Five scandal; they changed the interviewtiffanys time four different times over the course of one calendar morning, and I woke up on the wrong side of the barn.
    reply to this tiffany necklace

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