Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Absolutely Correct

Ezra Klein:
You hear this a lot in DC, folks bragging that they really know how to "read" a newspaper. It's a tremendous indictment of the way newspapers are written, that you need to train yourself to correctly understand them. The information exists, of course, but it needs to be extracted and re-processed. Which is why I'll take Political Wire over any "Washington" section in the country. The information is there for the taking. But I shouldn't have to turn to Political Wire.

There's no reason newspapers can't be written in a more immediate, aggressive way. But it would require an editor willing to break with the stylistic conventions of the industry, willing to toss away the "inverted pyramid." Given that the industry is in intense turmoil and self doubt, you'd think lots of editors would happily try a new model. But newspapering is one of the few professions where those in charge feel it's their duty to preserve the old ways, even if they're not working particularly well.
The newspaper of the future, I'd venture, is going to look a lot more like Pro Publica or the Washington Independent (or TPM!) than the NY Times or the WaPo.

The idea that newspapers are failing because many of them are, in fact, quite bad is really one you need to keep in mind throughout this entire discussion.

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