A few points I consider unassailable about the last week:
- Hillary Clinton is much better at working the refs, that is, the self-appointed referees of the media, than Barack Obama is. Everything manages to be about her, and her family. As opposed to me and my family.
- The refs have a self-inflated importance which makes them ripe for ridicule. When Anne Kornblut claims her job is to tell people what is about to happen, she’s out of line. Ridiculously so. Yet no one calls her on it because these gasbags uniformly think that is precisely their job.
- Everyone wants to be the ref. Bloggers want to be the ref (in place of the TeeVee and newspaper talking heads) so bad they can taste it. But what Matt Yglesias thinks will happen doesn’t count for any more than what Anne Kornblut thinks. Same with Chris Bowers. Same, of course, with me. And you.
It’s not just in politics that this happens. I find the political coverage most egregious because my life and future are involved, and because (often) my choice is being taken away by others assuming the right to say what everything means. But it happens all the time, everywhere.
Reporters have been out-of-line about the nature of their jobs, on every beat, for ages. It’s not for journalists to say whether Microsoft will take-out Yahoo. It’s not for us to say whether Roger Clemens or his accuser are telling the truth. It’s not for us to say whether Britney Spears is crazy.
It’s not our job as reporters to be the referee, on any beat. Our
job is to report the score, to find the telling details, to give
readers or viewers a feeling of being there, to interview the
participants and get inside the story, to find the facts no one else is
finding, to reveal those facts and create a mosaic based on all the facts in context. (This, for instance, is journalism.)
It’s not to be the referee. It’s not to decide who won, or what’s about to happen.
That is not our job.
The problem is, as with the referee pictured above, we all want to be the
story. No matter what the beat, all reporters secretly want to be the
story. Especially after we’ve been on a beat for a long time, we assume that as our right.
It’s not. You are the referee. It’s your money or your stock which controls business. It’s your allegiances which control sports, and entertainment. It’s your vote which controls politics. Not mine, or any journalist’s.
Anything I write here about technology’s direction or
e-commerce is speculation. That’s all it is. My Clues are based on a
lot of research, but they’re just Clues — they’re not the puzzle
True for journalists, true for TeeVee talking heads, true for bloggers. Someone, somewhere, someday, needs to have a nice big heaping cup of shut the fuck up.
Only then can I start respecting you as a professional.