Tuesday, June 14, 2005

But keep Verlyn Klinkenborg in there

In Slate, Tim Noah articulates a truth that the newspaper business will realize sooner or later - the traditional editorial page is a dinosaur and ought to be eliminated - except in the case of making recommendations on local elections, the only truly useful function is serves:

If the newspaper editorial were, in itself, a compelling journalistic form, it might be worth going on pretending that editorials represent something more than the opinion of a few journalists assigned to the editorial page and their boss, the editorial page editor. But the genre has certain built-in defects. One is that editorials typically lack sufficient length to marshal evidence and lay out a satisfactory argument. Instead, they tend toward either timidity, at one extreme, or posturing, at the other. Almost every editorial I've ever read in my life has fallen into one of two categories: boring or irresponsible. Most are boring, because, in addition to the length problem, the opinions expressed in the editorials are either arrived at by committee, or arrived at by an individual writer or editor who has internalized the views of that committee, real or imagined. Whenever that happens, the end product can't avoid being bland.

Why, for instance, should I care what my local paper thinks about the trade deficit or North Korea? Even the op-ed page is in danger of being supplanted by the blogosphere.