Ed Driscoll

All The President's Pundits

Earlier today, I linked to Doubleplusundead’s take on Kathleen Parker’s newest essay, which blames conservative critics on the decline of newspapers, rather than the quality (or lack thereof) of the actual product put out by the papers themselves, but Kevin D. Williamson makes a great observation, here:

Parker seems to have a slightly idealized view of how the conventional media operates. She doesn’t give any indication of ever having worked in a regular newsroom:

Constant criticism of the “elite media” is comical to most reporters, whose paychecks wouldn’t cover Limbaugh’s annual dry cleaning bill. The truly elite media are the people most Americans have never heard of — the daily-grind reporters who turn out for city council and school board meetings. Or the investigative teams who chase leads for months to expose abuse or corruption.

That is, of course, precisely the sort of journalism that does not get done often enough. And that’s because so many of the journalists in those roles are so truly awful. City-council and school-board reporters are notorious for being captured by their beats and serving the interests of their sources rather than their readers. (Police beat reporters are the worst on that front.) Most U.S. newspapers no longer have anything like regular “investigative teams who chase leads for months.” These desks have been gutted. Compare today’s Philadelphia Inquirer or Boston Globe to those papers 20 or 30 years ago.

As Williams concludes, “The investigative newspaper reporter is, alas, for the most part a character of popular fiction”–hey, I loved All The President’s Men and Lou Grant in the 1970s, but that was 30 years ago. These days, the typical newspaper serves much the same function for the special interests it protects as the Ministry of Truth did in 1984. Not the least of which are liberal politicians that newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, as namechecked by Williams above, increasingly seek to curry favor (see also: Obama, Barack). Including, as of late, financially.

Related: Steven Den Beste explores “The Decline And Fall Of The Reaming Empire.”