Friday, June 30, 2006

New Yorker's David Remnick
Says Flipping Public the Bird

No Longer Works for Editors

'Q: Given the recent scandals in the field of journalism, do you think that ethics are disintegrating?

A: No. I think that transparency is increased. Twenty-five years ago, if you had tried to write a letter to Ben Bradlee (then editor of the Washington Post) or Abe Rosenthal (editor of the NYTimes) and gone on about, you know, 'How come you're so pro-Pakistan and anti-India?' or, alternately, 'How come you're so pro-India and anti-Pakistan?'--they were so powerful and so remote from the implications of the public that they could essentially flip the bird. Now that's not the case, and mostly to the good. So I think these questions are discussed more. There was in the old days, no New York Observer, there was no Web. Can these things be nasty? Can they be unreasonably personal? Can they be wrong? They can be all of those things, but they've also increased this sense of accountability. Were there things in the past at newspapers or magazines that were, as you say, as scandalous as some of the things we've seen in the last few years? Yes. They just didn't get as much attention.'

--From an interview (not online) with Remnick in the July/August issue of the excellent Poets & Writers Magazine


At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worried about the so-called consolidation of the media for some time. Given that mainstream America still seems to absorb most of its news through conventional means (i.e. newspapers, cable, network), I wonder how effective the Web/blogs are as an equalizing force? As a case in point, I wonder if the termination of the DG blog is an example of the disequilibrum in the power and reach of different medium?

At 12:29 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Actually, Anne, I (and a lot of others) would argue that media consolidation hit its peak some time ago, and now we're moving entirely in the other direction. Companies like Clear Channel in radio, Viacom in TV, the former Knight-Ridder in newspapers and the former AOLTime Warner in every medium have found that there are a lot fewer synergies than they'd hoped in adding all these semi-related pieces, and that the future is in doing fewer things better, and getting out of the other businesses or selling them to smaller entities.

These things do go in waves, but in general, the web and the users and the technology are all pushing against consolidation.

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As silly and defensive as the PD's Reader Rep idea is, it seems to me that it's a nod in the direction of transparency. And I think having bloggers come in and observe the editorial process is another result of transparency and accountability.

I think that reflects a larger societal trend to uncover things and processes that were once secret or out of the public eye and interest. Just look at reality TV, the many informative shows on cable, the rise in documentaries, etc.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Good point, Miles. And funny timing. Just an hour ago, I got ahold of the new issue of Northern Ohio Live, the much-ballyhooed Man Issue, and found your charming story to be the best thing in there. You keep topping yourself, pal.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Jeff Hess said...

Shalom John,

Are you going to be joining us for a blogger sit-down with the Pee Dee's Jean Dubai? It's scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Monday, 10 July.

All bloggers are welcome.



At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks John. Maybe this is the month where we actually meet for breakfast, ay?


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