Press Man: Johnny Deadline vs. the Dreaded PowerPoint
Newspapers suffer from a terrible case of multiple personality disorder if they’re any good. From page to page you never know whose voice you’ll hear, but you won’t mistake it when you do. In the magnificent New York Post, there’s no confusing Andrea Peyser with Cindy Adams, or even husband Joey when Joey was alive. Indeed, the decline of great papers like the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times is most evident in the joyless, self-satisfied monotone that emanates from page to page and section to section, from Dining to Living to Preaching (the editorial pages). Place your hand over the byline and after several droning paragraphs you won’t remember whether you’re reading Gail Collins or Frank Bruni or Alessandra Stanley or Andrew Ross Sorkin or…I don’t know, one of those other writers. They all come with the standard-issue Times point of view, as though their attitudes arrived in the same packet with their guild card. But it’s nothing a good jolt of schizophrenia couldn’t fix. Less Gray Lady, more Sybil!
The pages of the Washington Post, I’m happy to report, still disclose multiple personalities, though they are often wan and understated. The owners have shifted their resources to a wobbly Web presence and cut the newsroom staff by half, losing their most distinctive writers along the way. Still, even as it croaks out its death rattle, it retains echoes of the pleasing cacophony that a good newspaper offers its readers.
About the Author
Andrew Ferguson, who appears monthly in this space, is the author of Crazy U, now out in paperback and on the Kindle.