Watching journalists running on their hamster wheels

As an author, it’s my business to watch journalists, and I have been journo-watching for a couple of decades.

They are dutifully running on a hamster wheel, never questioning the insanity of thinking that running on a hamster wheel is necessary and proves they are dedicated to their jobs, and now they have been doing it for so long, they now believe that it is normal. They get upset whenever someone points to them and questions why they are running on a hamster wheel.

They see themselves as smarter-than-thou beleaguered heroes, but what I see is much more realistic:

This article appeared on Poynter and elsewhere, and is the perfect example how clueless people in the news business are to reality — their own, and everyone else’s.

The article is filled with cringe-inducing buzzwords, and filler lists that don’t say much of anything. So far, nothing new from the trenches.

The author’s thesis is that journalists were once assembly-line workers, and now they are not.

Well, let’s test that theory.

The implication is that journalists are now more nomadic…and that’s supposed to be an improvement — but both are different kinds of bad.

Assembly-line workers were never asked to think, lead, or to innovate — they just dutifully follow instructions. When they lose their jobs, they also lose their roots. Reporters are floundering, throwing mud at people who were once in power, but are now on shaky ground — so they are deciding to take everyone else down with them.

That’s not journalism; that’s a petty vendetta from a dying industry.

The author of the piece proclaims that journalists and editors are increasingly turning down story ideas from PR people, but of course, who they are turning down are smaller shills who don’t need them, and are doing what President Trump did — go to social media so they don’t have the stench of journalists endorsing whatever person or product they are paid to shill. The more capable hacks are still controlling their message in the press the same as they did before. They have become more sophisticated, not less.

The article goes on to state outright that journalists pander to any audience willing to have them, which itself is an admission of tailor-making propaganda to fit whatever a certain audience wants to hear.

But the kicker of the entire piece — and something the author completely misses is this observation:

Sit next to digital brains and learn from them. Don’t surround yourself with people who have legacy skills. Listen to the talk. Watch over their shoulders. Learn a new skill each week.

And this one:

Reach out to digi-brains and talk to them about things they want to learn more about: story development, building sources, story approach, history about the coverage area.

In other words, do not do your own thinking, innovating, or leading: find someone you can follow and mimic them.

You know, like an assembly-line worker.

And the hamster wheel spins around and around and around…