18 December 2009

Facts Just Aren't News Any More

I used to rely on Newsweek for a recap of the week. A way to make sense of the headlines I'd seen in passing. Newsweek has apparently fired their reporters and hired columnists.

Don't get me wrong. The columnists are great - Fareed Zakaria is insightful and Sharon Begley is the kind of science writer who makes us laymen feel a little smarter by the end of her piece.

The good news is that these columnists seem to have opinions that they generally subordinate to facts. The bad news is that it is no longer clear where those facts come from. Apparently investigative journalism is now too boring or expensive or risky. Their opinions may be more balanced and nuanced than that of Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann, but it is still opinion.

In retrospect, this may have been inevitable. Our generation has grown up with the same main stories. Unrest in the Middle East. Celebrity scandal. Questionable American military involvement in [fill in the blank]. Fiscal recklessness. Lots of health care debate but little health care policy. Global competition eroding American industries. The facts, apparently, change little from news cycle to news cycle. Opinions, it would seem, are less constrained by events and easier to tailor for consumption. But even so, once you've taken the news out of Newsweek, it seems a little weak.

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