How the self-proclaimed Capitalist Tool was brought down by capitalism itself.
What angers Pinkerton is that the new digitalista regime that eventually won control of Forbes turned its face to this vapid future and embraced it. Forbes is now headed by Lewis D’Vorkin (a man whom I met once and nominally worked under for a year when I blogged at True/Slant, a site he founded). D’Vorkin has the title of chief product officer, and if you’re like me, you hear in that Silicon Valley phrase a snub of journalism’s most noble and romantic notions so forceful that it practically invites you to start humming a certain Cee Lo Green megahit. According to D’Vorkin, speed is the new accuracy. Editors should be “curators of talent and marketers of stories” who blend the contributions of dozens if not hundreds of people, many of whom are not paid. Journalism is no longer news, or stories; it’s “a conversation.” Thus did Vichy welcome its conqueror.
“There’s an important distinction between one hundred people using their cell phones to record an event and real journalism, calcified as some of its traditions and procedures may be,” writes Pinkerton in a rousing defense of professional journalism as performed at magazines.
What’s missing from the raw footage is the authoritative voice, the result of years of source cultivation, the building up of levels of trust that allow a reporter to put something into context. It’s something only established news outlets can do. Most people need an expert to filter, prioritize, and context information. A fire hose of information without that is useless.
Journalism is essentially an elitist endeavor. A well-written, well-edited, well-researched magazine will almost always have more to offer a reader than the lone blogger does, but that is true only if the editors and writers act like Jim Michaels did and simply never tolerate sloppiness and boredom and laziness. And if that’s not enough for magazines to secure their place in the future, it’s better to go down believing in excellence than to walk into the light of the shining day of the slide show.
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