It seems like every other comment on stories like Wednesday’s terribly written shitty account of sex and marriage in the Wall Street Journal is all about why journalism has gotten so shitty lately. As a news person, I thought I might try and explain some of the intricate workings at daily newspapers these days, so that we can all better understand, why, indeed, journalism has become “so shitty.” Let us delve into the intricate, complex inner workings of a typical publication, shall we?
Pretty much every single shitty day is exactly like this:
Shitty editor gets shitty press release from some shitty PR firm about shitty study at some shitty college/shitty think tank/shitty organization. (Shitty PR firm having just been retained by shitty organization to promote shitty agenda, which shitty study just so happens to tie perfectly in to)
Shitty editor tells shitty journalist (who is shitty mostly from being over-worked and totally burnt out on shitty job) to do a shitty story on shitty study. Shitty story should also include "shitty human interest angle" so shitty editor tells shitty journalist to find shitty people who match shitty study's findings and write shitty story about them. Shitty journalist has shitty hangover and does not want to spend a lot of time talking to shitty people, unless shitty people are ones taking drink order at shitty bar. Shitty editor assigns shitty journalist this shitty story at 2 p.m., and gives shitty 5 p.m. deadline for story. Shit.
Now shitty journalist has to scramble to find some shitty assholes to get some shitty quotes from to fit into the shitty story. Shitty journalist goes on shitty social media website like shitty Facebook and asks if there are any shitty people who would like to share their shitty stories.
Shitty journalist gets a few shitty responses at 4:35 and has to beg shitty editor for shitty deadline extension otherwise story will truly be shitty. Shitty editor gives journalist shitty look, so shitty journalist quickly writes shitty story, to avoid being on shitty shit list. Shitty editor thinks they know how to fix shitty story and does lots of shitty edits. The next day, shitty paper runs shitty story.
Shitty PR rep calls shitty editor to complain about all the shitty mistakes (aka everything shitty journalist didn't write exactly verbatim the way shitty PR rep wrote in shitty press release.) Shitty editor gets shitty phone call from shitty publisher, because now shitty PR rep wants shitty correction otherwise all of other shitty clients will pull their shitty advertising.
Then, shitty readers read shitty story and leave lots and lots of shitty comments on shitty newspaper website because story is just so goddamn unbelievably shitty.
So there you go. BTW, I just saved from spending $50,000 on an MA in Journalism with this post. You're welcome.