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The hypocrisy of Old Print Journalism

November 18, 2008

Are Old Print Journalists really just hypocrites?

The idea that a living, breathing online newspaper — complete with evolving stories and blogs, user-generated content, etc. — would scare a journalist seems contradictory. After all, this is The Fourth Estate — America’s Watchdog that demands openness and honesty from every manner of public figure. Yet when the idea of beaming the sunshine in journalism’s direction is broached, some bristle.

Example: Journalists crave behind-the-scenes views of the political machine, where everything is raw and less polished than what we normally see on TV. But how many traditional print journalists are comfortable with letting the public see their material in the raw, before it’s pumped through a copy desk, editor and another editor and packaged neatly and attractively?

I fully understand the need to withhold a story till it’s “ready” — especially when it comes to investigative pieces. For bite-sized stories, though, it makes sense to bring readers behind the curtain and even make them part of the process. People love that sort of thing; it’s why they shell out $10.50 for a movie and another $20 for the DVD — they want to see what got left on the cutting room floor and how that crazy CGI sequence was shot.

Bottom line: As much as people want to know “What happened?” they also want to know “How’d you figure that out?”

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