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I think everybody’s talking about like facts and truth and you know like that ‘We’re here to fact check’ and all of that, that’s the base material of journalism. You cannot have journalism without facts and truth. But if facts and truth were what actually you know sort of moved people’s lives and moved their decision-making like the election would have had a different outcome.
I’ve always liked elliptical writing, whether it’s Kafka or Paula Fox, and I’m often bored by writers who explain too much. I think that becomes journalism. Mostly I don’t try to explain to readers who somebody is – I just write about the somebody. I’m thinking through ideas. And I have the sense that, if you’re reading this, you have some interest.
One of the things that always drives any practitioner of journalism crazy is you’ll run it people who say why doesn’t the media cover this or that? Well of course the media covered it. Why didn’t you read about it? And, you know, it’s, you know, there you are, it’s not the journalist’s job to knock down your door, you know, punch the URL into your computer and force you to stop watching the Kardashians and to read, you know, a report on integrity in government instead, it’s your job.
I think we need to reckon in a very serious way with the emotional content of news and the way that people perceive facts and their perception of their situation and to me I think the tabloid is like fundamentally an emotional form of journalism and that kind of emotional valence is what distinguishes it from the broad sheet.
I think that we as a culture, not just in entertainment journalism, but in general the boundaries have become extreme. You know, all bets are off and it seems that there’s not much that we consider off limits. I’m just glad that I was in it at the time when I was, which just seemed like – maybe everybody feels that way then they do a look back on their life and career. And I always think for me, my motto is ‘ever forward’ and I think that’s the best way to live your life.
It seems like journalism over here in UK, in general, is at a higher level: not overrun by all these teeny little blogs. There’s more of a historical context for it or something. It seems like people review something or take a listen to something and they really do their homework. That’s just what it seems like.
Not working in journalism enables full attention to writing projects, which is good. But I miss the benefits of daily contact with people who are younger, energetic, engaged. And the necessary involvement with people and places and situations that enrich the imagination. I miss the enforced encounters with unusual projections of reality.
Some of the qualities that go into making a good reporter – aggressiveness, a certain sneakiness, a secretive nature, nosiness, the ability to find out that which someone wants hidden, the inability to take ‘no’ with any sort of grace, a taste for gossip, rudeness, a fair disdain for what people will think of you and an occasional and calculated disregard for rules – are also qualities that go into making a very antisocial human being.