Old hand embraces new forms of journalism

September 27, 2007

This piece from Martin Stabe’s blog at the UK Press Gazette.
Veteran reporter Seymour Hersh says that online journalism is the future. This is good news after all the hyped doom and gloom of Andrew Keen‘s The cult of the amateur. Keen’s thesis is that the Internet is killing our culture and our economics because it’s too democratic and the wisdom of the mob is not wisdom at all. He makes a heartfelt plea for us to put our faith in the experts, including professional journalists. Keen argues that journalism is losing out to the cacophony of voices in the blogosphere.

It’s nice to see someone of Hersh’s stature actually making a cogent counter-argument

When Seymour Hersh was in London in July, his appearance at City University was, with the exception of the odd quote afterwards, entirely off the record.

But this week the investigative journalist has gone on the record in a rare interview with the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles.

The Q&A piece contains an interesting exchange revealing Hersh’s views on how the web is transforming journalism, and the effect of his stories on the The New Yorker’s traffic:

JJ: New York magazine has a profile this week of Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, and they call him “America’s Most Influential Journalist.” What have bloggers like Drudge done to journalism, and how do you think it compares to the muckrakers that you came of age with?

SH: There is an enormous change taking place in this country in journalism. And it is online. We are eventually — and I hate to tell this to The New York Times or the Washington Post — we are going to have online newspapers, and they are going to be spectacular. And they are really going to cut into daily journalism.

I’ve been working for The New Yorker recently since ’93. In the beginning, not that long ago, when I had a big story you made a good effort to get the Associated Press and UPI and The New York Times to write little stories about what you are writing about. Couldn’t care less now. It doesn’t matter, because I’ll write a story, and The New Yorker will get hundreds of thousands, if not many more, of hits in the next day. Once it’s online, we just get flooded.

So, we have a vibrant, new way of communicating in America. We haven’t come to terms with it. I don’t think much of a lot of the stuff that is out there. But there are a lot of people doing very, very good stuff.

Thanks to Mark Hamilton for pointing this out.

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