The first 12 seconds say it all

Yesterday was something of an eye-opener. First was the clip above from the TBS program The Detour. The main character tries to be a whistle-blower and contacts this bozo who he thinks is a legit journalist. Wrong. The entire scene goes on like this, with the blogger totally clueless about investigative reporting.

The theme continued later when I read the New York Times‘ article “In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left.” Most of the piece deals with the massive cutbacks in publications like The Record and Star-Ledger.

This section was particularly painful to oldsters like me who actually care about quality over quantity:

Current and former reporters and editors, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships and future job prospects, said that their salaries had generally been cut by 10 percent in the past year or so, but that they earned bonuses if they met a quota for online page views. As a result, slide shows, surveys and brief stories with alluring teasers, like the 20 most famous people to attend Princeton, a quiz on Santa Claus, and polls on a “Lion King” remake and a “must-win” game for the Jets, have become legion.

“I was a content hamster, basically,” said one reporter who recently left the paper. “I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything of value, so when I had a review, I expected my producer to be harsh. But there was no critique. It was like, ‘Your numbers are good, keep doing a great job.’”

Wish I’d know about the event, which was held at nearby Montclair State University; I could have been one of the sad sacks in the photo.

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