Copenhagen overhype?

David Roberts thinks Copenhagen is a bubbling cauldron of media hype.

Consider: Copenhagen maxed out on journalist registrations, at 5,000. Supposedly there were more than 10,000 waiting in line even after that. The place is choked with journalists, not to mention folks from think tanks and NGOs who are supposed to be blogging on it. There are thousands and thousands of people in a tiny area, each under instructions from their bosses to update frequently and find fresh news, each exhausted and stressed out, each desperate for something, anything to write about.

On the flip side, virtually nothing of actual importance to an international agreement will happen before the final days, perhaps the final hours, of the talks.

So what are all those journalists going to write about? They’re going to write about “Climategate.” They’re going to cover NGO events and reports. They’re going to write “local color” pieces on, say, Danish police preparation. Most of all, they’re going to report obsessively every time any representative of any government says anything, or anyone claiming to represent someone who represents a government says that someone else representing some other government said something. You get the idea—every bit of pre-positioning gossip and bluster will be blown up to billboard size.

There is, in short, immense incentive to exaggerate the significance of every piece of “news.”

via The ‘leaked draft’ non-story and Copenhagen journo-hype | Grist.

“The Inheritance”

I just finished reading “The Inheritance,” a new book by New York Times foreign correspondant David E. Sanger. It’s a lucid, thoughtful look inside the Bush foreign policy legacy, with a strong focus on the challenging global security situations in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan that the Obama administration must contend with.   Sobering and worthwhile.

On the future of long-form journalism

Some interesting thoughts from Gerald Marzorati, the editor of the New York Times Magazine (highlights are mine):

Q. Thank you for answering questions. I believe that the Magazine is one of the great weekly publications for in-depth, intelligent reporting on a wide variety of timely issues. The New Yorker comes to mind as another print source in this genre as well. Do you think this kind of reporting can survive in this day of Internet blurbs and sound-bite news? I have to admit that I face less and less time to be able to sit down and read entire articles as I scramble at work and at home with busy schedules and an overload of information.

— Bernard Langs, New Providence, N.J.

A. Dear Mr. Langs: My short answer is, Maybe. Long-form journalism might have a future, both in print and online. Last spring I gave an address on this very subject to a gathering of editors in San Francisco, and you can read it if you want here. But I will summarize:

— Readers still want long-form journalism — despite information overload and hectic schedules and so on — and the numbers prove it. It’s the magazine’s longest pieces that get the most page views each week, often more than a million. (Are they reading it on their monitors or printing it out? Good question.)

— Long -form journalism is expensive: The Magazine is publishing a 13,000-word piece on Sunday (it will be up online earlier) that we did in partnership with ProPublica, the independent, not-for-profit newsroom. One of ProPublica’s editors and I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation yesterday of what the total cost of the piece actually was, figuring in several years of reporting and nearly a year of editing. Estimate: $400,000.

— So: The problem is NOT that contemporary readers getting more and more of their news online don’t want or read long-form journalism, despite what my friends Jacob Weisberg and Michael Massing continue to say (see “The News About the Internet,” New York Review of Books, Aug. 13, 2009). The problem is that very, very few Web outlets can begin to afford it. And the the handful of print magazines devoted to long-form journalism that have a Web presence (The New Yorker and The Atlantic most prominently) don’t really make money. Who is going to pay for long-form journalism? That’s the question. Maybe we need more ProPublicas. Maybe you and other readers drawn to long-form need to pay for online content.

More David Simon on the future of journalism

More awesome, frightening and depressing ranting from David Simon on how the internet is not going to save journalism.  At least not soon.  What he said to CongressMore in-depth version Internet new media types try to claim he’s wrong, but not very convincingly.

Bottom line: amateur, unpaid journalists are no substitute for well-resourced, professional beat reporters.