Monday, February 28, 2005


Laurie Garrett, the Pulitzer-prize winning writer for Newsday, has decided not to return to the paper after her leave of absence working at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Poynter Online posts here her goodbye essay/letter. And it's not only readers who are disgusted with journalism nowadays:
When I started out in journalism the newsrooms were still full of old guys with blue collar backgrounds who got genuinely indignant when the Governor lied or somebody turned off the heat on a poor person's apartment in mid-January. They cussed and yelled their ways through the day, took an occasional sly snort from a bottle in the bottom drawer of their desk and bit into news stories like packs of wild dogs, never letting go until they'd found and told the truth. If they hadn't been reporters most of those guys would have been cops or firefighters. It was just that way.

Now the blue collar has been fully replaced by white ones in America's newsrooms, everybody has college degrees. The "His Girl Friday" romance of the newshound is gone. All too many journalists seem to mistake scandal mongering for tenacious investigation, and far too many aspire to make themselves the story. When I think back to the old fellows who were retiring when I first arrived at Newsday – guys (almost all of them were guys) who had cop brothers and fathers working union jobs – I suspect most of them would be disgusted by what passes today for journalism. Theirs was not a perfect world --- too white, too male, seen through a haze of cigarette smoke and Scotch – but it was an honest one rooted in mid-20th Century American working class values.

One of my kvetches with blogger triumphalism is the oft-noted fact that bloggers mainly link (at least eventually along the bloglink chain) to "mainstream media" stories. If it weren't for reporters actually doing journalism, the blogosphere would be more of a ciricle-jerk than it already is. (I include this blog as a little part of that circle-jerk, btw.)

I'm sure there was no golden age of journalism, or that whiskey had much to do with quality, but news really seems mostly pathetic nowadays. And don't get me started on local TV news.

I think Laurie Garrett was the only reporter (not columnist) at Newsday that I knew by name. Sorry to see her go.

No comments:

Web Analytics