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NewsYou Don't Say

We traffic in human misery

JournalismChristmasThe Wall Street JournalThe New York Times

One of the fundamental elements of journalism is action, and the aspect of action that most appeals is conflict. That's what we journalists are looking for. 

You can hear endless head-shaking blather about the tide of ugly events from people who lament, "Why can't the newspapers print good news?" The reason, and we know it full well, is that people are not that interested in good news. If they were, Grit would outsell The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal combined. 

Our ghoulish appetite for violence and misfortune (which mirrors yours) does not diminish with the approach of the holidays. In some ways, it intensifies. 

I recall my first news editor, the late Bob Johnson of The Cincinnati Enquirer, speculating on the possibilities one year as Christmas neared.

"You have families assembling whose members don't much like each other," he said. "And you have the pressure on everybody to make it a picture-perfect holiday. Then there's the drinking. So the pressure builds and builds, and finally somebody explodes.

"Why," he said, his eyes gleaming as he leaned back in his chair, "we had six killed for Easter one year."

Bill Trutner, the slotman, looked up from the sdesk and murmured, "We usually have ham at our house."

I'll be at the desk Christmas Day. Expectantly.

 


 

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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