Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 9:52 pm

(Pop) art, life, and American journalism

So Athenae at First Draft watched all the episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s now-defunct show “The Newsroom” so that I didn’t have to. And in reflecting on the last episode, she crosses some of the show’s content and character with a recent tweet by NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen [not linked, at least for now, because Jay’s account has been suspended for some reason] to come up with this:

Nobody’s coming to save American journalism. Nobody’s coming to save anybody who gives a s—. Nobody, not Charlie Skinner and not Will McAvoy and not even Maggie Jordan — Maggie whose transformation is one of my favorite things about this show, Maggie who just wanted to work — is gonna fix this now. Nobody’s the future and nobody’s the savior and nobody is going to rescue Atlantis Cable News. Lucas Pruitt is a [bleep] and will always be. That fight is always going to be a fight.

Hear that, hear what it actually means. That condemnation is its own redemption. No one is coming to save you. Repeat after me. Nobody is coming to save you. So save your own [bleep] [bleep] glorious selves. Think about the freedom of that. Think about the way it unties you, shoves you off the cliff, and trusts you to fly.

It’s up to you. I talk about this all the time in my offline and online lives, in my life: If you give a [bleep] about something you are the one who is morally obligated to act, so spare me your peroration on how you’d show up at the protest if only the other people there were dressed the way you wanted them dressed. Spare me the opinion columns about the wars you think other people’s children should fight, the wars you yourself have such a good reason for not fighting.

And once and for all time spare me the [bleep] St. Crispin’s Day speech you’ll deliver ten minutes before saying you have to go home to pay your bills and put your kids to bed so once more unto the breach, all you other [bleep] people. If just one more person Baby-Boomer-splains to me how they used to be idealistic and then they joined the real world I will lose it, I swear to God.

Stop WAITING. For God’s sake, stop being disappointed when no one comes. Stop hating everybody else for being stupid and trivial and obsessed, stop hating the technology at your disposal, stop hating the world you live in for not being the world you want to live in, and stop being so [bleep] willing to let yourself off the hook.

Work HARDER. Get better. Get up.

Nobody’s coming to save American journalism. Some observers have finally figured that out. And we’ve seen that right here in Greensboro, where billionaire Warren Buffett, the News & Record’s new(-ish) owner who has repeatedly professed his love for newspapers, has made it abundantly clear that he has no use for newspaper people. When the Batten family decided to get their money out of the news bidness and put the N&R and the Landmark chain’s other papers up for sale, Buffett was seen as a savior. Not so much, it has turned out.

At the front lines of journalism, reporters have to report. What’s  your best story? Give THAT to your editor, then, and forget the craven or just plain silly assignments that come down from the publisher and the executive editor and the managing editor. Your bosses might have a nose for real news, but my observation of American journalism leads me to think the odds are very much against it anymore. So, you with the laptop, you with the camera, you with the microphone, you with the blog: You’re it. You are all there is. Go get better, go do better. Because it’s you or nobody.



  1. True, and not just for journalism. It took me a while, but I’ve figured it out. Athenae is right. Her advice applies to any serious interest, vocation or avocation.

    I would add to your advice to reporters: if you are good, if you have something more to offer than what you say is getting culled, stifled and reined in by your editors, fight. Sure, they are going to do what they will (they have to justify their jobs, after all), but take to social media and make public what you whisper to people behind the scenes. Let it be known what stupid paragraph was inserted by your editor; make it known that your heart wasn’t in it because you were assigned a story that you didn’t find newsworthy; make it known when coverage is being guided by considerations with which you don’t agree. Separate yourself from your colleagues who acquiesce to mediocrity because they don’t imagine anything better.

    What’s ahead for you if you don’t? Some mythical time in the future where, if you just bite your tongue long enough, you will have accumulated enough clout that you can finally be the journalist you want to be? That day will never come and the people pushing you around are counting on it. They know what you don’t: that you don’t accumulate clout by capitulating to mediocrity and mendacity. If you do, you’ll look around at 50 and realize the best that is in store for you is to step into their shoes.

    Comment by Roch — Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:59 am @ 7:59 am

  2. […] Lex has a post about the state of American journalism that ends thus: […]

    Pingback by We Are Journalism | Jon's Font of Worthless Information — Thursday, December 18, 2014 6:52 pm @ 6:52 pm

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