You get the media you deserve and I am Exhibit A
Howie Kurtz watches the caskets roll by at the WaPo and you feel like you’re listening to Ringo talk about John, Paul, and George dropping out of the Beatles:
But it is painful to watch from the inside. The talented reporters, editors and photographers walking out the door are part of the heart and soul of a living, breathing organism. How do you replace a Tom Ricks, one of the best Pentagon reporters ever? Or a Sue Schmidt, the investigative reporter who revealed Jack Abramoff’s dirty dealings? Or Robin Wright, who’s covered the Middle East for a quarter-century? What about battle-scarred editors with deep knowledge and a light touch?
Some colleagues are in transition. David Broder, who at 78 still pursues politics with great vigor, will keep writing his column under contract. Tony Kornheiser, who will contribute to the Web site, had reduced his sportswriting role in recent years as he became an ESPN and radio star and co-host of "Monday Night Football."
Others would have left regardless for new jobs or book contracts. John Harris and Jim VandeHei decamped last year to create the instantly successful Politico.com. And you could staff an all-star team with working journalists who once graced The Post’s pages: David Remnick, Malcolm Gladwell, Steve Coll, Gwen Ifill, Mike Isikoff, Kate Boo, Mark Leibovich, Elisabeth Bumiller, Glenn Frankel, David Von Drehle. But talented hires keep replenishing the staff.
But then he gets bitter:
The ticking time bomb here is the wholesale abandonment of newspapers by younger people who grew up with a point-and-click mentality. When I was speaking at Harvard recently, a smug graduate student said, "I get everything I need from YouTube. What are you going to do about it?"
"What are you going to do about it?" I shot back. If people want to tune out the news, no one can compel them to change their habits. We can be smarter, faster and jazzier in providing information, but we can’t force-feed the stuff. If newspapers wither and die, it will be in part because the next generation blew us off in favor of Xbox and Wii and full-length movies on their iPods. Network news faces the same erosion. Maybe, in the end, we get the media we deserve.
After pondering the offer, I decided: I’ll badly miss the people who are leaving, but I’m staying put.
Ouch. There you have it: the first recorded instance of self-pwning.