The media must have been all caught up today in covering really super-important news like the fact that our black president is not from Africa, at least not directly — that, and the fact that our news cycle can still be manipulated by a moron if he’s rich enough — because the press seems to have taken the day off from covering the press, at least in a way that strikes this navel-gazing enthusiast as any sort of interesting. (On a related note, Andrew Sullivan seems to think that it’s the job of the media “always to press for more information,” even when that means indulging or validating conspiracy theorists, but that also makes our head want to implode a little bit.) All of which is to say that on this Wednesday, our daily media column Press Clips is mostly about how awful journalism can be.
By the Numbers: According to a 21-slide list posted over at The Daily Beast, journalism is quantitatively the worst, “Most Useless” college degree there is, even worse than numbers two through five: horticulture, agriculture, advertising, and fashion design. Breaking it down for aspiring writers, reporters, and editors:
Median starting salary: $35,800
Median mid-career salary: $66,600
Change in number of jobs, 2008-2018: -4,400
Percentage Change in number of jobs, 2008-2018: -6.32
Undergraduate field of study: Communications
Number of students awarded degrees 2008-2009:: 78,009
Sad, small numbers indeed! But let’s skip the lecture about not getting into this writing business for the money, but because we absolutely must lest we cease to exist as intellectual beings. Instead, let’s agree that by placing journalism at number one at this list, The Daily Beast thought, cynically, that it would bring the most possible attention to the slideshow, which now sits at number two on their website’s Most Popular list, through things like Twitter and Facebook, which journalists and aspiring journalists use to demonstrate their (largely egotistical) “self-loathing,” and all of this from the Beast because “journalism” is now at least partially dependent on things like “pageviews,” hence the slideshow format and, again, the super troll-y number one (and jokey two — horticulture?!) on the list. Also, it worked.
Swampland: That said, the New York Times is not sinking, at least literally.
Lady on Lady: And again in Timesland, the Paper of Record tells the media side of this week’s WikiLeaks stories on Guantanamo Bay, fleshing out the story we told about the race to publish and all of the drama between publications like WikiLeaks, the Times, Guardian, Telegraph and so on. Except when the Times tells that story, they’re largely talking about themselves, which is always awkward and amusing, and requires glossing over the super catty back-and-forth between executive editor Bill Keller and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. It reminds us of another story (in the Times, no less) on the subject of writing about one’s own boss: “I can’t think of a more uncomfortable position to be in.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 27, 2011