Monday, June 7, 2010

Political Scientists, Unite!

Christopher Beam from Slate wrote "The Only Politics Article You'll Ever Have To Read," a news article written as if it were written by a political scientist. As someone who walks around with a piece of paper that asserts that I have met all of at least the minimum academic requirements to be trained in the art of political science, it's a fascinating (and, more importantly, humorous) article. However, I think it has less to do with political science and more with what is wrong with the news media.


I had written a post a few weeks ago about the media, but it was getting very long and really wasn't going anywhere, so I scrapped it. I may revisit it at some point. But basically it boils down to:


1) Journalists no longer comprehend their subject matter; they are trained on passive voice and writing ledes, not finance or foreign affairs. Society has gotten so complex (at least in regards to economics and law) that trained people need to be covering this, but trained people don't go into journalism, they go into economics and law. So news organizations hire "experts" that give opinionated commentary on the issue, which no longer makes it news and is now an editorial.
2) There are a lot of rotten things going on in print journalism, none of which are surprising. News organizations will have to adapt to the internet or die. Some newspapers are handling it well; most are not. 


This latter point is the one that will most likely determine how print journalism survives. If they don't adapt, there will basically be one news organization (The Associated Press, or an entity like it) that everyone picks and chooses their stories from, along with freelance local writers of highly variable quality. We shall see.

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