kind of meandering
June 12, 2010 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Restoring Journalism Maureen Tkacik talks about her life as a journalist, the nothing-based economy, and the future of journalism. She suggests abandoning authority and productively channeling narcissism. (via 2p & dd)

BONUS
-Maxine Udall: 21st Century Regress
-My name is my name: Ezra's model and mine
-"Am I pretty?"
-The Cocoons We Live In
posted by kliuless (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like the phrase "Nothing-based economy". Also "Authority"? I think most people don't vest the media with much anymore.
posted by delmoi at 6:04 AM on June 12, 2010


Huh, so that's why I hated reading Moe's posts at Jezebel, and really quite loved this.
posted by kalimac at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2010


So I wrote what I know, or rather what I’ve learned, which could be summed up this way: when the Internet forced journalism to compete economically after years of monopoly, journalism panicked and adopted some of the worst examples of the nothing-based economy, in which success depends on the continued infantilization of both supply and demand. At the same time, journalism clung to its myths of objectivity and detachment, using them to dismiss the emerging blogger threat as something unserious and fundamentally parasitic, even as it produced a steady stream of obsessive but sneering trend stories on the blogosphere.


What I'd really like to see is a comparison of how stories get spiked in the MSM world compared to how they get walked back or deleted on-line. Because it has always seemed to me that the real power in media is not expressed in assigning stories but in killing them.

The all-time example of this, for me, was how the Seattle MSM intentionally misreported the Fat Tuesday riots as something other than urban gang-related.
posted by warbaby at 7:11 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Neat peice. And Tomer Hanuka illustration too.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting: "The profit margins you could achieve selling a good or service were directly correlated to the total idiocy and/or moral bankruptcy of the demand you drummed up for it."
posted by Faze at 7:49 AM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fun! I wonder if the "respected journalist who did this all the time" is David Simon. He talks about this in one of the The Wire commentaries.
posted by wobh at 7:58 AM on June 12, 2010


I would like to purchase this persons book on the economy, if she can manage to sell it.
posted by empath at 8:23 AM on June 12, 2010


Damn... I went right to amazon to try and find out more about the book, which I imagine is at least a year from seeing daylight (since it's not already listed). Great column. Lots to think about.
posted by codacorolla at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2010


It certainly is startling to read this after the slo-mo-car-crash style of blogging that she practiced at Jezebel (what she calls the “Moe Tkacik brand” here). I was tempted to write that off as someone trying to revise their past blogging history in an effort to repaint themselves as I R SEIRUS JURNALIST NAOW, but I've seen enough people who adopted these sorts of outsized personas while passing through the Gawker blogs to see a bit of a pattern.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:26 AM on June 12, 2010


I really hate Jezebel. She pretty much reveals why I hate it so much and why I find the comments at Jezebel so grating:

Of all the resentments I had accumulated before coming to Jezebel, I had never much dwelled on the misfortune of being born a woman. But women, who so disproportionately bear the nothing-based economy’s unrelenting fusillade of invented insecurities and predatory sales pitches, were ideally positioned to share my list of grievances. It makes sense, in retrospect, that a readership so universally practiced in the faking of things—orgasms, hair color, age, disinterest in men one was actually interested in, etc.—would humor the intolerance for fakery that helped define the “Moe Tkacik brand,” which was basically an angrier, more recklessly confessional, and more contemptuous version of myself.
posted by anniecat at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2010


"The profit margins you could achieve selling a good or service were directly correlated to the total idiocy and/or moral bankruptcy of the demand you drummed up for it."

Capitalism killed journalism.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:19 AM on June 12, 2010


Interesting: "The profit margins you could achieve selling a good or service were directly correlated to the total idiocy and/or moral bankruptcy of the demand you drummed up for it."

I mean, it's interesting that someone would think this, and not think it through. I mean, there's no reason to have journalism, or anything outside of the what meets our basic personal needs, but that it has some direct or indirect exchange value. As Bob Dylan says, "You gotta serve somebody." If you don't serve the market, which is dynamic and impersonal, you serve a powerful money pile: an oligarch, warlord, or the government, who uses you for some purpose. The alternative to all that idiotic and morally bankrupt demand is service to some strongman, which I suspect this gal and many people like her would prefer to markets, which are favored by the kind of people people like us hate.
posted by Faze at 2:18 PM on June 12, 2010


there's no reason to have journalism, or anything outside of the what meets our basic personal needs, but that it has some direct or indirect exchange value.

[citation needed]
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:34 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't serve the market, which is dynamic and impersonal, you serve a powerful money pile: an oligarch, warlord, or the government...

I think you (and Bob) are right about needing to serve to survive. I think there may be a bit of an excluded middle in your outline there, though. The vast, dynamic, impersonal market as a whole is one alternative to the patronage of a money pile, but there's a middle ground I think, one which MeFi itself is a great example of -- the community of supporters. Loyal and very personal, and it's a tiny-scale business model which is proliferating like mad, thanks of course to the internet. As somebody said, it's no longer about being famous for 15 minutes, it's now about being famous to 1500 people.

One example of this working for journalism particularly is the Michael Yon article linked just a couple of FPPs up. Foundations, which often represent communities of supporters themselves, are another growing source of funding for independent journalism.

I mean, I just have to ask myself, if journalism is dying then why do I seem to be reading more incredible reportage every year than I did the year before? (Though the answer is probably that I hang out more here every year....)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 4:42 PM on June 12, 2010


I mean, it's interesting that someone would think this, and not think it through. I mean, there's no reason to have journalism, or anything outside of the what meets our basic personal needs, but that it has some direct or indirect exchange value.

Note that she says "profit margins" and not just "profit." What she's saying is that meeting the demand for bullshit is cheaper and therefore more profitable than meeting the demand for substance, even though both kinds of demand exist.
posted by revfitz at 1:03 AM on June 13, 2010


Newspapers: The strange survival of ink - Newspapers have escaped cataclysm by becoming leaner and more focused

American newspapers: Not dead yet - Newspapers have cut their way out of crisis. More radical surgery will be needed
posted by kliuless at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2010


"The stranger thing about phone sex, though, was that the training program was more rigorous and extensive than any I’d encountered in journalism."

Hm.
posted by yarly at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2010


Government Takes On Journalism's Next Chapter
The Economist as Journalist
As The Fourth Estate Crumbles: Can Anyone Replace the Local Beat Reporter?
posted by kliuless at 5:23 AM on June 21, 2010


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