Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pulitzer Prizes Lost

© 2010 Stan Spire

Over at Alan Mutter writes:

"Endless newspaper layoffs have cost readers 'tens of thousands of years of community knowledge,' says media sage Ken Doctor in an important new book.

"As if the loss of community wisdom and lore were not bad enough, it is unclear where local news will come from in the future, warns Doctor in 'Newsonomics'...”

Really. So an old fart reporter is replaced by a young kid who works for cheap and all that local knowledge is completely gone, flushed right down the memory hole? What about local experts like reference librarians and historians? Even a podunk like Plattsburgh has a few books about the history of the area that could get a neophyte up to speed.

Centuries of community knowledge lost forever? How did Doctor calculate that one? Numbers and statistics can be tricky. Let's say a small company boasts that its staff has "over 50 years of knowledge." One old timer has worked there for 49 years and two kids have been there for a year each, part-time. It adds up to over 50 years of knowledge even though two-thirds of the staff are inexperienced.

Statements can be misleading. I'm an international traveler. Does that mean I've been on a commercial airline, that I've visited Europe? No, I've never left North America. I've been to Canada a few times by car, never by plane. Montreal is only 60 miles away. I don't think I'm much of a world traveler with that background.

So let me come up with my own stupid statement about journalistic loss.

If the market for journalists wasn't so competitive, I could've landed a job at a big newspaper and ended up writing an article that won a Pulitzer Prize. There has to be at least a million other people like me who could've won a Pulitzer in the same situation.

Due to the tight job market, there has been at least a million Pulitzers for journalism never awarded!

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