Gail Collins is a much stronger woman than I am, because I’d have strangled David Brooks years ago:
David: … Now I feel, or maybe it’s hope, that we’ve reached equilibrium. Blogging is real, but not hegemonic. YouTube is interesting for people who enjoy watching 54,000 versions of the Harlem Shake. College students these days seem to spend little time on blogs and not much on Twitter, but a lot of time on Facebook or at least on Instagram. And lo and behold recognizable newspaper journalism is still standing, benefitting from a popular flight to quality.
Do you share my sanguine view that we’ve reached a survivable equilibrium?
Gail: I’ve always had faith that the great national newspapers would survive in some form. But to tell the truth, I’ve been feeling grimmer and grimmer about local reporting. Candidates for the House and even the Senate campaign with very little coverage. Press rooms in state capitols look like they’ve been evacuated. And I don’t know what happens to national politics when the feeder system is covered mainly by right- and left-wing bloggers.
David: Good point. I used to tell young journalists to start out writing crime stories somewhere. Now I tell them to produce Web pages that link and comment on the best pieces in the national press. The big editors will look to your site if you write obsessively about them. Eventually they’ll hire you.
Gail: That’s a good career strategy, I suppose. Instead of covering the news, you cover the people covering the news.
Thing is, even if Brooks understood the meaning of the phrase “backhanded compliment”, he’d never be able to understand why anyone might object to being called a careerist and a courtier. After all, he’s the one who’s got a mansion with vast spaces for entertaining, not to mention a plum CV-building Yale gig teaching… humility.
But then, Gail Collins probably never spent an entire dinner party with a Senator’s hand on her upper thigh, either. No sweets without sweat, as my Irish granny used to say.