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Why can't they do both? They manage to put together a sports section, business section and comics in the same issue. Are you implying that they can only credibly claim to do true investigative work if they don't do anything frivolous? By that standard, nobody has ever done real investigative journalism. Is Woodward and Bernstein's work exposing Watergate invalid because the Post published Beetle Baily?

BTW, I agree that the first excerpt was whiny doom-mongering. Consider the Bernie Madoff or Allan Stanford affairs; mainstream media ignored them, even when directly presented with the evidence (we're looking at you, WSJ). Blogs played a big part in bringing the stories to widespread attention. However, your attempt to demonstrate "ironic juxtaposition" is somewhat lame.

Actually you know what I find really depressing about the Canadian media? Any idea that seems remotely interesting (e.g. newspapers exposing corruption) is generally taken from the previous week's New York Times. As in...

What Newspapers Do, Have Done and Will Do

Published: February 13, 2009

Outside the shrinking guild of scribblers, it’s disappointingly hard to find much sympathy for the beleaguered newspaper industry. Only 18 percent of Americans believe all or most of what The New York Times publishes, according to a poll last year by the Pew Research Center. If the Internet is putting us out of business, who cares?

t matters. The argument that if newspapers go bust there will be nobody covering city hall is true. It’s also true that corruption will rise, legislation will more easily be captured by vested interests and voter turnout will fall.

(The rest of the NY Times article is well worth reading, with references to economic arguments/research by Amartya Sen, Claudia Goldin, etc, see

This is one of my bugbears. The profession holds itself in pretty high esteem, and sees itself as one of the underpinnings of democracy, free speech and exposing injustice both private and public.

The reality is that in practice the bulk of reporting has turned into stenography of press releases, and the idiom of providing "balance" in terms of viewpoints often relies on the reporter being a completely vacuous tabula rasa that must report nonsense, rather than provide any sort of screen or even being able to ask decent questions -- this is the "some say the Earth is flat" phenomenon. "Objectivity" means pretending you fell off the turnip truck yesterday.

This seems at its most blatant in economics reporting. The trouble with economics is that it involves money. And where there is money, there is usually somebody hoping to spin things to their advantage. And reporters are casting about for "experts" to provide quotes. So you get hedge fund managers talking their book, the National Association of Realtors spinning market data, and oil company sponsored think tanks lobbing out junk science to confound the issue of global warming. And the reporter gobbles it up and dutifully, acritically, reports it.

I've been amazed, and gratified, by the extent to which the blogosphere has been kicking journalists collective @sses on these types of issues these past few years.

What you're missing is that there's a cause-and-effect relationship between downsizing and fluff. The MSM is publishing more fluff because they're focused on providing low-cost news. The investigative stuff is higher cost and thus at the margin; it's one of the first things a paper would cut if they're downsizing. Think about it: it takes a heck of a lot less time to write a fluff piece on Harper's belly than to do a good, thorough investigative piece (e.g. CBC's piece insider lottery winnings or the Globe's piece on 9-1-1 calls routed to the wrong cities). I used to edit my campus newspaper and write occasionally for the MSM, and as a journalist, when you're either paid by the story or expected to fill space, you pick the easy stories rather than the time-consuming investigative stuff.

I hear you David, but my point was as much about the conventions of "reporting" undermining quality. Many blogs have very very high quality content, done off the side of one person's desk. All that's required is some thinking, rather than parroting. There's no reason why a reporter can't be skeptical or analytical; yet there is this constraint by the form of the story, or the nature of reporting vs op ed that appear to constrain them. They seem unable to even ask questions that generate stories themselves, unless it they get a press release about it first. This constrains them in terms of getting decent, useful, interesting information about significant topics to the public.

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