I labored over that Murdock story, and I wound up taking out the part of his speech which had really incensed me in the first place, because it wasn't working. But today, via Roxanne it's back in.
First, here's Rupert:
According to one recent study, the percentage of national journalists who have a great deal of confidence in the ability of the American public to make good decisions has declined by more than 20 points since 1999. Perhaps this reflects their personal politics and personal prejudices more than anything else, but it is disturbing.
I've been in similar situations many times, and I can attest that there's nothing that compares to having some megalomaniac lucky sperm badmouth his underlings for their insufficient enthusiasm for perfect little plans. What's really disturbing here is the idea that this must reflect personal prejudices rather than, say, a functioning cerebral cortex. Can anyone look at what's happened since 1999 and say their confidence in the American public is unchanged? Only if it started at zero.
This is a polite way of saying that reporters and editors think their readers are stupid.
No, it's a way of saying we're caught in a traffic jam of idiocy and you're the traffic cop, and reporters, and no doubt much of the public, are aware of it.
In any business, such an attitude toward one’s customers would not be healthy. But in the newspaper business, where we rely on people to come back to us each day, it will be disastrous if not addressed.
Yeah, swell. Now the man wants reporters to start acting like those idiot waiters who think you've come in to find a new best friend. Look, Bradley, take that pasted-on smile off your face and get my order right for once, huh? Then we'll be buddies.
[There's a cashier at my local drug store who is the freakin' poster boy for this. He says "thank you" after every sentence, even sentences which have included two or three in the body. Every single customer is another opportunity to make five minutes of small talk. By the time you get to the head of the line your prescription's expired. And you know, you know he thinks he's in the running for Midwest Cashier of the Year.]
Today, Roxanne catches our media pros chewing over the idea of training citizen journalists:
What this might mean is that news organizations would start training the public in how to be citizen journalists, perhaps by offering online courses, or even in-person seminars. By completing these courses or seminars, a citizen reporter could then receive some sort of elevated status when posting. [washingtonpost.com Producer/Moderator Lindsay] Howerton suggests that this gives people something to strive for while at the same time "educating them toward more balanced submissions."
I can't say it any better than eRobin did in the comments:
I can't wait to sign up for an in-person seminar! At the end, I hear they give everyone who passes the written test a fedora with a press card stuck in the band. Only the card reads "Press?" To get the quotes removed and the question scratched out, you have to be invited to and attend at least a dozen power cocktail parties and get a nickname from BushCo - then you're in!
So, forget that earlier stuff about the cerebral cortex. Reporters don't trust Americans because we haven't learned our 5 Ws, haven't mastered the inverted pyramid, and need some pointers on sucking up, following the script, and phoning it in. Forget I brought it up. They deserve Rupert Murdock. And with their guidance, so will we.
And Kathy, much thanks for the book link.