February 21, 2010

Flogging A Hobbyhorse

It's time now, once again, to return to bashing my favourite pseudo–news outlet, AOL's Daily Finance: Give The National Enquirer a Pulitzer Prize? Why Not?
After hinting that it wasn't going to allow The National Enquirer to compete, the body that oversees the Pulitzer Prizes has reversed course and decided to accept the tabloid's submissions. This isn't going to please a lot of old-school journalism grandees, but it was the intellectually honest thing to do. Nice job.
Oooooh-kaaaay... I am willing to go along with this, despite your apparent conflation of "old-school journalism grandees" and "people who actually read newspapers", because I am morbidly curious as to what your argument is...
To understand why the Enquirer ought to be eligible, all you really need to know is that the Pulitzer committee's eligibility criteria range from vague to subjective to nonexistent. Is the Enquirer's reporting "distinguished"? That's a matter of opinion. Does it adhere to "the highest journalistic principles"? Well, probably not all the time -- but, then, who does?
Ah, of course: the Dick Cheney school of journalism.

Incidentally, DailyFinance author, I realise that your last sentence was meant to be a rhetorical question, but I'm going to answer it anyway: YOU don't adhere to the highest journalistic principles all the time. I'm surprised you can even spell "journalistic principles". What this "column" basically boils down to is, "sure, the Enquirer doesn't meet the Pulitzer criteria in a conventional way, but it sort of does and anyway the criteria don't really matter". That is some great fucking insight. A+.

Also, how does any of this explain why allowing the Enquirer to remain eligible is "the intellectually honest thing to do"? How can you be intellectually honest with regard to standards that have no real meaning? FFS.

Incidentally, I'm actually pretty sure the author of this column is not a total bonehead, because in his last paragraph he does a 180-degree turn from the "intellectually honest" garbage and says:
No, the National Enquirer isn't the kind of publication upon whom Pulitzer judges usually bestow their blessing, and perhaps with good reason (emphasis mine)
Which suggests to me that he is quite aware he's whistling Dixie and would like to leave himself the room to step back from the giant, journalistic dookie he's just dropped (if you'll permit a mixed and distasteful metaphor).

But dude: if you know it's bullshit, don't fucking write it just to fill your post quota. In this "fragmented, rapidly mutating media environment," as you so tritely put it, we need more than ever for our columnists and journalists to act as a thoughtful filter to the news, not a "take a position for the sake of it" one. Get it sorted!

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