As any editor and/or publisher will attest, finding qualified writers is too often the proverbial needle-in-the-haystack search. This is particularly acute in attracting entry-level journalists who are straight out of college and are eager to make their mark in the business. But while editors and publishers grit their teeth and dig through the piles of curriculum vitas, perhaps it is time to ask a question that many people would prefer not to acknowledge: Why are there so many mediocre writers coming into journalism today? The answer can be divided into four parts....
1.There are very few contemporary journalism "stars" for tomorrow’s writers to look up to. Back when I was an aspiring young scribe (in the days of the typewriter), there was no shortage of quality publications and inspiring writers to fuel the imagination. Today, though, many of those publications either went out of business and many of the survivors have dumbed-down their contents under the mistaken belief that people are too busy to read a long and complex news article (only the disorganized people are, but that's another subject).
And, if any young writer wants to look for insightful analytical commentary, forget it. For example, compare the best of classic political commentary (William F. Buckley, Jr., or James Reston) to, say, today's "hot" political commentary (Maureen Dowd or Michelle Malkin). It is very, very depressing....
3. The Internet is crippling journalism. Today's young writers often migrate to the real world of journalism via the blogosphere. Blogging, with its hit-and-run approach to relating a story, makes the oft-maligned USA Today approach to reporting look like the Times of London by comparison.
But as Truman Capote once observed: "That's not writing, that's typing." The typical blogger will make a point in three-to-four sentences, but if you put that blogger behind a keyboard and request a 1,000-word article, there is a good chance that individual break into a cold sweat. Quality writing requires discipline, which is something blogging does not instill.
Mediocre Journalism Blamed on Blogs
Phil Hall writes in the Media Industry Newsletter that today's journalists are mediocre and the writing is poor. He counts off several reasons why that's the case, including number three: blogs. Blogs, he says, are nothing more than "hit-and-run" journalism.