Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Learn It, Know It, Live It
I swear I'm having this printed in fine calligraphic script on a sheet of parchment, framing it and putting it on my wall.
From Matt Taibbi, probably the single greatest quote about being a journalist I've ever read:
"Let me just say that I’m always suspicious when I see articles about the motivations of journalists. I think they often reflect a misunderstanding of what journalism is all about. Journalists are supposed to be assholes. The system does not work, in fact, if society’s journalists are all nice, kind, friendly, rational people.
You want a good percentage of them to be inconsolably crazy. You want them to be jealous of everything and everyone and to have heaps of personal hangups and flaws. That way they will always be motivated to punch holes in things.
Obviously it would be bad if all journalists were like this, and there is certainly a place for the more gentlemanly school, i.e. those writers and TV reporters who maintain good relationships with politicians and institutions, and work with them to deliver important information to the public.
But the iconoclastic school of journalist should be a difficult person. You know how when you go on the subway, there’s always one asshole on the train who just has to whip a pen out and draw a mustache on the face of the cute blond stewardess in the Jet Blue ad? That’s the kind of person we’re talking about. A pain in the ass on the subway, and in most places (and personal relationships, for that matter), but very useful in this particular profession."
(By the way, read Taibbi's entire post and concentrate on his take on the difference between mainstream journalists and bloggers these days. Also perfectly spot-on.)