Back in March 2009, Whet Moser (then of the Reader, now of Chicago Magazine) wrote a dynamite blog post turned cover story about “journalism’s past, present, and future” that broke down the animus many traditional journalists feel toward bloggers and outlined in plain, detailed language why your future journalism career may depend on your being an expert in something other than journalism:
Look at it economically: the value of Richard Roeper, star columnist, has declined due to market forces. There are a lot of people offering the same or better service. The Roeper Bubble has burst.
And I don’t mean to pick on Richard Roeper. Well, actually I do, but there are more grave examples. Take David Brooks. The New York Times, a while back, thought people might want to pay to read David Brooks, and then they thought otherwise. Here’s the thing about him: he’s a journalist who writes about economics and politics. This is in fact what most journalists are: they are journalists, by training, who have trained to write about specific areas of expertise. On the other hand, Brad DeLong is an economist who writes. (If Brad DeLong is too liberal for you, there are more conservative economists who write, too.)
It turns out writing is the easier thing to learn. It is the less valuable commodity.
Most journalists are loath to admit this, because it means being part of the Roeper Bubble. A lot of the people newspapers pay to write are not just competing against people who write for free, they are competing against people who write better than they do, and those people are compelled to write because they are experts, which they are paid to be.
Why am I highlighting this now? Because I have only just found it, and am disappointed that it slipped by me for two and a half years, and I don’t wish the same upon you. Besides, it is just as relevant today as it was two and a half years ago. Enjoy.