Froomkin To HuffPo
Dan Froomkin has been hired by the Huffington Post. The post is Washington Bureau Chief, which means the duties are more editorial, but he'll write a column two times a week or so. Glenn writes:
Huffington says that it is Froomkin's views on the media that, for her, is his primary appeal. The key to vibrant, successful journalism, she said, is "getting away from the notion that truth is found by splitting the difference between the two sides, that there is always truth to both sides." Huffington argues that establishment journalism is failing due to "the idea that good journalism is about presenting both sides without a voice -- without any passion." The outlets that continue to adhere to that "obsolete" model "are paying a price." Froomkin -- who has written extensively about how passion-free, "both-sides-are-equally-valid" journalism is the primary affliction of the profession -- echoes that view: "The key challenge is to present an alternative to the 'splitting the difference' culture that has infested traditional media." [...]
For all the self-serving talk about how political journalism is dying, it is striking how new and online media outlets continue to thrive. Yesterday, Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo -- which began as a one-person blog -- announced a major investment from Netscape founder Marc Andreesen that is allowing it to double its reporting staff. And now today, a columnist fired by an old, struggling establishment outlet claiming "business reasons" as a motive is not only almost immediately hired by a new media entity, but was inundated with expressions of interest and even other offers from an electic mix of reporting outlets.
Clearly, journalism itself is not dying. What is dying -- and rightfully so -- is the staid, establishment-serving, passion-free, access-desperate, mindless stenographic model to which establishment journalism rigidly adheres. As The Post's Ombudsman reported from personal experience, Froomkin's firing left "an army of angry followers" and "an outcry from a loyal audience." People are obviously hungry for the type of real journalism Froomkin practices. The Huffington Post immediately capitalized on the Post's short-sighted and myopic decision to fire one of their most (and one of their very few) vibrant, passionate and innovative journalists. In this episode lies many insights about the real reasons establishment journalism is struggling severely.
While this shift to new media necessarily leaves behind those on the other side of the digital divide, and I hope that can get addressed, it's not like traditional media is doing all that much to keep themselves relevant and useful. Journalism won't die, but journalism as it is practiced in print and broadcast really wants to give itself a nice Viking funeral.