White Elephant Journalism vs. Termite Journalism



Jack Shafer on the coming deluge of pompous post-election coverage:

They've all oversubscribed to the notion that Obama's candidacy is momentous, without parallel, and earth-shattering, so they can't file garden-variety pieces about the "winds of change" blowing through Washington. They're convinced that not only the whole world will be reading but that historians will be drawing on their words. Will what I write be worthy of this moment in time? they're asking themselves….

Reporters do their least self-conscious work when they're startled by a story they hadn't prepared to write. Think of the astonishing coverage of the 9/11 attack, natural disasters, and the 2000 election-that-would-not-end. But giving a reporter (or a pundit) too much time to think about a historic event such as VE Day, the moon landing, the fall of Communism, or the release of Nelson Mandela is like entering him into a grandiosity competition to see who can squeeze the most poetry out of his keyboard. Suddenly, everybody with a notepad and a word processor thinks he's Norman Mailer.