Wednesday, January 12

Rather Blather; Werk is for Jerks

Greg Palast of the Observer and the Beeb is the lonely contrarian voice crying in the wilderness on the fallout from CBS's night of the long knives over the President's military service, blasting the "craven, cowardly firing of '60 Minutes' producer Mary Mapes for her story of our President's draft-dodging history."

On the other hand, I appreciate Jay Rosen's post-mortem take on the affair as well (concurring in the Jarvis majority opinion:

Personally, I hope that broken contraption "trust us, we're CBS," forces the network into the clear skies of a new idea: We used to do our reporting in a way that required the public to trust us, the professional journalists. It worked for a while, but times and platforms change. Now we have to do our reporting in a way that persuades the public to trust us. Professionals at CBS News: are you up to it? Publish the full interviews. That is but a single example that could be turned into fact next week. Hundreds of others are waiting to be activated in a similar way. If in the wake of the disaster a decision were taken at CBS to embark on a new course in openness, the professionals at CBS might soon realize that in having to re-build their division's reputation they have been given a gift: The opportunity to clear away a crumbling and disordered professional house and pour a new foundation.

I'm down with both points of view. Can I have my cake and eat it too? These people really fucked up. Rather made an ass of himself by becoming the story, falling for the bait dangled by people who wanted to take the spotlight off the message and put it on the messenger.

On the other hand, Rather also behaved with a reasonable amount of ethical integrity--not something you can say about Mapes, by the way. I could have done without his pointed crack to the effect that "knowing what I know now, I would not have run with the story"--a zinger at Bush's similarly phrased statement about the war in Iraq--and getting down in the mud with the noise machine bloggers with that crack about people typing in their pyjamas.

On the other hand, Rather's right: Bush is most probably a slimy my-daddy-bought-me-this-oil-company draft dodger. Which makes him a candidate for a hypocrisy charge (although that "born again" thing really seems to be working for him).

Ah, well, what do I know. I have no time to blog freely this days, occupied as I am with working for the man. My old translation blog is crashed and awaiting a porting of the database to a new server. The publisher is out of town at one of those 18 holes in the afternoon sales shindigs. My gripe for the week: I'm getting more conservative about intellectual property in some ways. If you develop a fat Rolodex and bookmark file in the course of your beat-building for a publication, you should leave a copy behind when you go, along with a debriefing on your beat. And Human Resources should attempt to save some of the brain drain-off in a jar in the exit interview. Having to build your own--hypothetically speaking, of course--would be a major waste of time and resources.

Other preoccupations: structuring quality-control incentives for freelancers, and managing the balance between competition and collegiality. Creeping advertorial. Squeezing in more mini-junkets and face time with the industry movers and shakers. How to make a Web site not suck for cheep. Intranet instead of e-mail. Bureaucratic inertia. I want a BlackBerry. Coveting the cubicle with all that shelf space! Why are those Brooklyn construction guys walking around with blueprints whispering to that suit I've never seen before about what walls to knock down in our workspace? Why can't the Au Bon Pain downstairs seem to keep stocked up on French roast? More infographics! The theory of electronic call options. Parsing consultantspeak. Luddite tendencies of the journalistic confraternity. Interviewing process. Hedging and reinsurance. Fat pipes. Anonymous block trading versus crossing platforms. Intellectual property. Rocket science. The 99 flavors of XML. The Southern District of New York. Guest columnists. Overlapping production schedules. Understaffing. Shanghai. Dash-5s. The first round of SOX reporting.

Yee haw. Well, at least I've got plenty to do all day, keeps me out of the Foca's hair.


Post a Comment

<< Home