A rant gets it wrong

“Surveying the Sad Decline of the News Business Since the Triumph of Watergate” is the subhead of an AdAge rant by Randall Rothenberg, author, journalist and now chief marketing officer at Booz Allen Hamilton. Here’s a guy who glorifies Walter Lippmann, the father of professional journalism, and blames ego, celebrity and the media’s obsession with the media for this “decline.” I’m sure Mr. Rothenberg’s a smart guy, but he’s only partially right here.

Ego, celebrity and the media’s obsession with the media are all FRUITS of Watergate. Here’s what I posted on The Buzzmachine this morning:

I used to think Watergate was the be-all-and-end-all of journalism, but I don’t see it that way anymore. In fact, I think Watergate started the inevitable slide of institutional journalism, by exposing it for what it was — just another institution enamored with itself. Watergate produced reporters of fame, and soon everybody wanted to be just like them.

Notches on a journalist’s gunbelt were first carved during Watergate. Damn, it was heady! “We” brought down a sitting President. Just imagine what else “we” can do! Ask the TV reporter in Fargo who got fired after pleading guilty to trespassing if he wasn’t looking for a notch when he jumped a chain link fence at the Fargo airport to “test” security.

And I love this:

…Walter Lippmann gave journalists standing alongside other leaders as shapers…of public opinion…

Pride goeth before the fall, the old Proverb says. Oxygen deprivation is journalism’s biggest problem — from living so long atop the pedestal it has created for itself.

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