Daily journalism’s slow slide to silliness and irrelevance is seen in many ways.
Some such demonstrations populate front pages that have shrunk both in physical size and news content.
Advertising now boldly acts as the banner for a page once wholly devoted to italicizing what’s important and that transpired yesterday.
Today, yesterday is too old for much of anyone’s attention.
If it’s not right here, right now and preferably in list format, it simply doesn’t matter, count or merit attention. (Another rule: lists always employ odd numbers: three things to know, five things to remember, seven things to do.)
Outside of the newshole, as it once was referred to, the editorial page was a publisher’s license to stray from otherwise objective reporting and the editors’ opportunity to take a stand, issue a recommendation, call attention to that which had been overlooked or those who were underserved.
The editorial page was the place – if nowhere else – where journalists could rightfully and legitimately flex advocacy, whether readers agreed with what was advocated or not.
The editorial page was prime real estate for doing exactly what journalists are hired to do: comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
With notable exceptions, of course, daily journalism smugly shirks this responsibility, this opportunity, this public podium from which thoughtful, informed, intelligent agitation is issued.
Today, at least once weekly, my locality’s daily paper imports an editorial from its group chain’s membership of other dailies instead of writing its own.
Maybe today all of our upstate problems have been solved, wrongs righted, and opportunities already grasped.
Previously, the editorial writer somehow found subjects about which to squeeze out 350 to 500 words. Every day.
A one-trick pony harping frequently on the same subject, the writer nonetheless cranked out texts that took positions. Seven days a week. Which is a lot like saying “every day.”
Today, the paper trumpets the virtues of its “Engagement” editor. (Which, believe it or not, has nothing to do with forthcoming matrimony.) And, as one might expect in a climate infatuated with title inflation, the position is named “Senior Engagement Editor.”
No juniors, apprentices or intern engagement editors are identified. Surprisingly.
In a recent act of unparalleled bravery and in the face of certain reader blow-back, the paper issued its firm stance on . . . wait for it . . . potholes.
The newspaper is opposed to them. Believe it or not.
What’s next? Advocating for green grass, apple pie and Motherhood?
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