MediaPolitics

Could David Attenborough and a camera crew be sent to find one?

Journalists, that is, Are there any real ones left? Almost everyone who draws a salary as a journalist these days is, despite what it says on their contract, a columnist. An opinion-monger, like me. Or, to put it more bluntly, a propagandist. A political operative. Or else, if they’re lower down the food chain, they’re a reproducer of press releases. Or a Twitter-trawler.

This wouldn’t be quite so bad if you had columnists who knew something about how the world really works. Or even how a field or two works. But very few of them know anything about anything. Owen Jones isn’t passing on his hard-earned wisdom through ink or pixels, because he has none. He doesn’t even have any easily-won wisdom.

I’m not saying that journalists ever used to be that knowledgable, but at least they used to do some investigating. Mind you, they also used to make stuff up back in the old days, so I’m not going to get too nostalgic.

The situation we have now is that most columnists are dead boring (with a few exceptions, eg. Rod Liddle). Actually, they usually were, for the most part. But when blogging started we all thought the newspapers would soon become filled with these wonderfully entertaining and knowledgable writers from the internet. But most of these bloggers never made it onto a bigger stage. Glenn Reynolds did in the US. And Brendan O’Neill (though arguably never really a blogger) is one who did in the UK, but as good as he is, he just writes the same column over and over. I still like bloggers like Tim Newman, but no newspaper is going to pick him up. So the blogger takeover never happened.

And then the blogs started dying, and most of the good old bloggers gave up (as I did for years) or turned to Twitter, which in effect meant that they gave up column-length writing. And things aren’t going to change, because few young people now dream of getting into journalism to investigate anything.  They dream of getting into ‘journalism’ so they can denounce their political enemies. I can’t complain too much about that seeing as I’m an opinionated blogger, but at least I took the trouble to learn a few things first before I first decided (in the early 2000s, under a different name) to start mouthing off

Anyway, I think we can all agree that if you work for the Telegraph’s Women’s section, you’re not a journalist.

Update: Almost on cue, this Tim Blair blog post appears where he reveals that the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough — who you may remember making a dick of himself in the old Iraq War days — has been asked to do “more reporting and less columnising”. That hasn’t gone down well with MgGeough, and the result is that he is in discussions with the SMH over a voluntary redundancy package.

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