Allow me to indulge in a little nostalgia.
I was a newspaper editor, once upon a time. I was proud of it. But that was decades ago. Not much left to be proud of in journalism anymore.
Who were the best reporters, then?
Speaking as an editor covering local news–and believe me, it’s a lot more than tricky trays and flower shows–I’d have to say the very best reporter would be an ordinary-looking, inconspicuous woman, sixtyish, kids grown up and on their own, of more than ordinary intelligence but quiet rather than flashy. Every newspaper needs at least one reporter like that, or it might as well save itself the trouble and just go out of business. These women, the infantry of local journalism–no secret can be kept from them. They find out everything, sooner or later.
In second place I’d go for bright teenagers who follow directions but retain their enthusiasm for sniffing out the news. I wouldn’t trade one of them for half a dozen of those twaddlers on CNN. You’d be amazed what high-school kids can find out, if you turn ’em loose on a story.
Newspapers are on the brink of extinction, and it’s their own fault. Everybody wants to be Dan Rather, and that’s how you end up like Dan Rather–one scam too many, and you’re out on your tuchas.
I have no idea how we’re gonna replace local journalism. Maybe we’ll have to wait for it to be re-invented.