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Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Phony, Fame-Seeking Journalist

I'm still a sucker for the romance of journalism, but I'm also a realist. My adult lifetime graduate course has taught me that my profession's virtues, like those of the Greek heroes, often become its vices. Its very successes--illuminating the civil rights revolution, helping open America's eyes to Vietnam or Nixon's depredations or financial mismanagement--induced excess. Reporters wanted to be famous, rich, influential. As a media writer, I've reported on a new generation of windbags, of callow people who think they become investigative reporters by adopting a belligerent pose without doing the hard digging, of bloviators so infatuated with their own voice they have forgotten how to listen, of news presidents who are slaves to ratings, and of editors terrified they may bore readers. As in any profession, some folks take shortcuts.

Ken Auletta, Backstory: Inside the Business of News, 2003

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