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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Watergate Ruined Newspapers

The Deep Throat revelation (who really cares about this story except "journalists"?). I saw one blog that described the media frenzy as reminiscent of a Married With Children episode where Al Bundy is celebtrating his glory days on the gridiron. How apt!

I feel Watergate actually ruined journalism. Prior to Watergate, journalism was an uncelebrated career- it had a lot of talented and hard-working people and many were only high school grads who had worked their way up from more lowly positions. They tended to resemble what you'd see in an old movie where the reporter would hustle into a regular bar, take a seat with the regulars and quietly describe the latest scandal he was uncovering about the politician/ businessman/ tycoon who happened to be dining next door at the oh so expensive restaurant. In other words, the reporter was a regular Joe and was only interested in muckraking and was not consumed with advancing his own career.

Watergate changed all that. The Ivy Leaguers and the privileged flocked to careers in journalism- they wanted to bag their own president like Woodward and Bernstein. Not only that, they changed the way sports was covered. Before Watergate, if a player got rip roaring drunk, it didn't make the news because he was probably drinking with at least one reporter- players and reporters had similar backgrounds- working class. After Watergate, the Ivy League reporter felt (that word again) superior to the dumb middle class athlete but was jealous of the money the athlete earned. Thus the new emphasis by the media on the economics of sports (which I hate reading about on the sports pages- should be in the business section) and the antics and foibles (both legal and ilegal) of the professional athletes!

Today, the journalists are activists versus reporters. They want to organize and participate in civic projects and butt their noses in where they don't belong. For instance, how can they objectively report on the success or failure of a school board's new school building plan if the journalist was part of the planning meetings. Hell, in Philly, they invited themselves to the planing meeting as participants (not observers). THAT IS NOT THE JOB OF A JOURNALIST.. My advice to journalists is threefold. Simply report the news - good or bad- like a good observer. Learn to get comfortable sitting at a bar with the regulars. And forget about Watergate.

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