Journalism’s Parasites
by: David Sirota, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

No matter how much this week’s Pulitzer Prize triumphalism hides it, the fact remains that journalism these days is “a disaster,” as Ted Koppel said recently. And unfortunately, retrospection dominates the news industry’s self-analysis. Like dazed tornado victims, most media experts focus on what happened and why, oh lord, why?

The queries are important, though just as critical are two prospective questions: 1) If, to butcher a Chinese aphorism, every crisis is an opportunity, then who is making an opportunity out of journalism’s current crisis and 2) are those opportunity-maximizers actually parasites destroying journalism for the long haul?

The answer to the initial question is three groups, starting with the Access Traders. These are reporters like The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and NBC’s Chuck Todd, who, while covering politics for major media, are also signing separate contracts to write books chronicling White House gossip. Facing a crisis in audience share, these correspondents’ employers encourage the double-dip opportunities, hoping book exposure will result in residual attention. But the simultaneity is problematic: As the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz notes, hard-hitting stories in these reporters’ day jobs “might alienate potential (book) sources and flattering ones might loosen The dynamic’s deleterious effect on journalism is obvious.

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