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February 21, 2013

"Shoeleather Never Smelled So Good:" The Saddest Article I Ever Read

The whole incident described in the last post -- liberal reporters doing victory dances about a conservative reporter's error -- suggests that reporters sort of understand that no one likes them and no one thinks their jobs are especially difficult or demanding. And so they seem to be attempting to reassure themselves of their value.

The other day a New York Times article tweeted out this story, calling it "terrific," and saying they "couldn't stop talking about it" at a Columbia Journalism school class. (I believe that's right; I don't really care if the details are correct, quite frankly.)

I suggest people read it... and notice how incredibly sad it is. I call it sad because it is so self-congratulatory about an utterly mundane and frankly trivial bit of journalism. Simply tracking down the provenance of a picture that appeared on the web, on social media.

It all seems quite simple and easy to me: the author makes it sound like triangulation was used to determine what building a shot was taken from, whereas, looking at the scenery, it strikes me that anyone familiar with the area could immediately guess what building it came from. Further, he then talks about slipping into a building without buzzing -- something millions of people do every single day, and I don't mean criminals, I mean when you're going over to your buddy's and he's not answering his bell because he's in the shower, or beating off -- as if it's some kind of daring act of espionage.

As far as I can tell, he just goes to the building in question, knocks on the door of one possible apartment the shot could have been taken from, and leaves his card under the door of another apartment; in a couple of days, the photographer (who lived in the other apartment) contacts him.

And yet this is all presented as some sort of heroic tick-tock along the lines of All the President's Men. As if we really need a moment-by-moment recounting of how a trivial story was easily nailed down.

And the odor of self-congratulation is oppressive, almost like a stinking physical body pushing up against you, like you're the one cute kid in a subway car full of perverts.

Ugh.

If these are your thrilling victories and tales of heroic daring-do, Media, you're even more mediocre than I thought.

By the way, the line "Shoeleather never smelled so good" is lifted from the article. That's his Serious You Guys You're Awesome compliment for a reporter's daring act of venturing to a physical location and knocking on a door.

Honestly, this is like a plumber bragging to me he used a motor to get a sewage-connection pipe to make grade at the street. Yes, I see. That's... useful. But that's just your job, and it's a rather trivial challenge in your job.

Now, if this plumber went on to write this tale of Plumber Heroism up in an 1800 word essay for the New York Times, he wouldn't get published.

But the New York Times thinks it's just super when a reporter successfully performs a mundane function of his job.

Hey, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for those stars, guys.

This is just one of those things you shouldn't brag about -- because we immediately realize that if this goes right on to your Highlight Reel, then... My God, how easy is your job every other day? How little work do you actually do?

And this just in:

Local Anchor Wins 2nd Place in Hotdog Eating Contest


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posted by Ace at 07:25 PM

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