Springtime, and the journalists are blooming

May 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

Spring always reminds me of journalism. The fresh scent of politicians blossoming like the thorniest of rose bushes. The muddy footprints of journalists digging in the garden carefully selecting the bloom – or thorn – that fits their lead.

These images first germinated in my mental corn field more than 20 years, during one glorious springtime interrupted by my studies at American University in Our Nation’s Capitol. The Journalism Semester in which I had enrolled collected college juniors from across the country to study journalism as practiced in the World Capitol of News. We studied all (both?) forms of the craft, at least all forms known to the pre-internet world, including print, and broadcast. We visited the newsiest of places – Pentagon, Supreme Court, Old Ebbit Grill, Georgetown’s Third Edition Tavern. And we learned from the headiest of talking heads.

Throughout my years as a writer, I recall a lesson delivered by Brit Hume. At the time, Hume served as chief Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC News. Hume posed a question that I have thought of often through the years. And I’m sure he was not the first to ask it, but he posed it well: Who creates the news?

The question is even more compelling in today’s media world. Everyone – anyone – can create the news. But it’s only really “news” if it’s shared and shared thoughtfully and widely. That’s the difference between 2009 and 1989. Pre-internet news was spread by a many local and regional newspapers, plus a handful of broadcast organizations – with Brit Hume a much more widely recognized news-man than he is today. Certainly, Hume is still spitting out news reports today, though some might argue that his Fox News carrier truly belongs in the spittoon. Across the airwaves, equal but opposite news is being spread by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, but to some that simply like the manure spreader in remote farm fields across America.

That exactly the same events – torture memos, tax day tea parties, Presidential appointments and woes in Detroit – can generate news of so many colors makes Hume’s “Who creates the news?” question so interesting.

But today, it’s not the question to ask. It’s certainly interesting to know – as with gardening and farming – how things are created. It’s more important, however, to ask the question: “How do you devour the news?”

Personally, I favor a heartly helping of NPR, with a little side of Anderson Cooper. I like a side dish of CNNBRK along with Mashable tweets. I sometimes sample the WSJ salad with the New York Times Business section dressing. I really enjoy a nice glass of Politico.com (though all the bloggers can be a bit intoxicating). Sometimes for dessert I have The Onion, but usually my sweet tooth is satisfied by The Daily Show. And after church on Sundays, I have a cup of coffee with all the morning talk shows (thanks DVR).

I think I need some Tums.

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