Posted tagged ‘Better Media’

For a Good Time In Cambridge — Hendrik Hertzberg/Ta-Nehisi Coates Edition (reminder)

October 29, 2013

Hey, all you Greater-Boston folk, a reminder:

Tonight at 7 at MIT, Ta-Nehisi Coates will talk to Hendrik Hertzberg about the state of opinion journalism…

Lesser_Ury_Im_Cafe_Bauer_1898

and the related matter of the debased (my word) state of American politics.

Location:  32-123, which translated out of MIT-speak, denotes the big first floor lecture hall in the Gehry-designed building known as the Stata Ctr., located at the corner of campus where Vassar St. hits Main. See this interactive map for details.

Ta-Nehisi, as most here know, is a blogger and senior editor at the Atlantic Monthly, writing about race, culture, politics, history, hip-hop, e-gaming, French language studies and anything else that comes to his notice.  Winner of the National Magazine Award for his essay “Fear of a Black President” he is also, to my great pleasure, my colleague in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program.  Hertzberg, senior editor and staff writer at The New Yorker led the New Republic won three NMAs, while taking home the hardware (is there any?) for his solo commentary at the home of the monocle and the top hat.  As I noted the first time I plugged this event, “he is one of those writers on whose work other writers take notes.  He takes writing very, very seriously — talking to one of Ta-Nehisi’s classes yesterday he let them know that the craft isn’t just hard for beginners, that he still sweats and agonizes over getting right with every single piece he publishes.

In other words — whether you want to know about the craft or the content of major-league political analysis, this should be a fun evening.

For those of you who cannot make your way to 02139 tonight, we will be recording the event, and though it may take a little bit, we’ll get the video up in reasonably short order.  I’ll let y’all know when and as that happens.

Image:  Lesser Ury, In the Cafe Bauer,  1898

MSM Delenda Est, Chuck Todd edition

September 18, 2013

A couple of commenters in the last thread picked up the same item that’s had me stewing for a few hours already, so I thought I’d share the bile with the lot of you:

During a segment on “Morning Joe,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) speculated that most opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been fed erroneous information about the law. Todd said that Republicans “have successfully messaged against it” but he disagrees with those who argue that the media should educate the public on the law. According to Todd, that’s President Barack Obama’s job.

“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it,” Todd told Rendell. “They don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

Back in the old days (Get Offa My Lawn!….), us print folks used to snort at the way TV types styled themselves journalists.  When we did, we’d point to folks our Mr. Todd resembles: stenographers with cameras.

An-Officer-dictating-a-Letter-1655-58-Gerard-ter-Borch

Nowadays, of course (and much more than we wanted to admit back then) there’s nothing medium-specific about the utter intellectual failure of elite American political journalism.  But after today I’d say that even in that dismal lineup Todd is a special snowflake.

What’s infuriating is that he really isn’t stupid.  He has a body of knowledge and some genuine expertise.  But the claim above is so — self-castrating is about the best I can say for it.  What professional with any jot or tittle of pride in his or her work would say “hey! Don’t look at me! I don’t write this stuff; I just deliver my lines.”

Truly:  Todd’s quote reads to these eyes like a resignation letter. If you can’t rouse yourself to meet the minimum requirement of a cub reporter covering a school council meeting — ask if that thing Councilmember Doe just said, was, you know, actually true? — then perhaps you should take a bit more time with your family.

Or rather:

Yo! Chuck:  you’re stealing paychecks from the Peacock and wasting everyone else’s time.  Go home.

Image: Gerard ter Borch, An Officer Dictating a Letter, c. 1655-1658