Goldblog: Wrong About Everything

by Brien Jackson

Can Jeffrey Goldberg do anything right? Trying to defend newspapers and take a rather cheap insult at The Huffington Post, everyone’s favorite hack Very Serious Person writes:

The Washington Post today features a beautifully-written article by Eli Saslow about the people who survived the Red Line crash on the Washington Metro earlier this week. The story is deeply-reported, authoritative, riveting and altogether a reproach to those who say that newspapers are somehow unnecessary, that the Huffington sweatshop and Google and the Daily Beast will keep us sufficiently informed. Read the whole thing and tell me I’m wrong.

Well, I read the entire piece, and I have to say that Goldberg picks some rather odd words to desribe it. I won’t disagree with the notion that it is both a riveting read and an extremely well written story, but that’s pretty much it. It certainly doesn’t come off as “deeply reported,” it more or less reads like the writer interviewed a handful of people who were on the train, decided to focus on one in particular, and went about writing their story. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind you, but there’s no sense pretending it’s Watergate all over again or something. It’s also not particularly informative either. For as interesting as it may be, the information that it presents about the feelings on the train and so forth I probably could have guessed even without the piece. Which, again, isn’t really a dig at the piece, so much as it’s a dig at Goldberg’s ridiculous hyperbole about it.

I’m also not really sure why, exactly, Goldberg thinks you couldn’t get this sort of thing from HuffPo. I mean, it’s basically a very well written human interest story about a jarring event, but one that really appears to have involved only minimal legwork. A talented, D.C. based writer for Huffington easily could have produced more or less the exact same thing. What institutions like The Washington Post are positioned to do that internet outlets like HuffPo aren’t is to put to use a vast disparity in resources, as well as trading on the established credibility of their brands to assert new information about a matter of public policy, politics, or whatever. This piece, good as it may be, really doesn’t de either, so it’s not clear to me why, exactly, this is evidence of the necessity of The Washington Post.

But hey, at least Goldberg isn’t shilling for another war this time.