Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Steve Gilliard vs Journolist

Footage from a Journolist Meetup

In aid of maximum clarity, let me repeat this one more time: the notion that anyone would be shocked by reporters sitting around in a semi-private setting bitching about their beats in salty language that would never make it past an editor's blue pencil

is objectively hilarious.

On the other hand, idea that journalists fresh from the smelly Bush-era trenches would build a club-house-and-mutual-aid-society complete with velvet ropes and secret handshakes? A digitally tyled lodge,
...guarded so that non-Masons may not enter or overhear the proceedings. The Tyler or outer guard, as his name implies, is situated outside the door of the lodge "being armed with a drawn sword to keep off all intruders and cowans to Masonry.

protected from the thousands of grubby prole bloggers with whom they still wanted to glean a street cred contact high, but didn't want to let in to use the bathrooms? A place so clean, well-lighted and safe that Joe Klein had a table by the window and Tucker Fucking Carlson applied for admittance?

That aspect of the story makes me wonder what my blogfather -- the late-Steve Gilliard --

would have to say on the subject.

A careful reader might detect a hint or two in this 2005 post ("Outlaw Journalism and the Blogs") Gilly did on the occasion of Hunter Thompson's death :
Thompson had been a newspaperman, had worked for Time and hated it. He didn't fit into the neat box that people wanted to place journalists in. Was it really any wonder that David Halberstam didn't wind up running the Times or that Sy Hersh still has to deal with people who call him a traitor. Journalism wasn't embracing the outcasts, not then, and not now. Thgompson didn't wind up in Rolling Stone because he was in high demand as a political commentator. Just like people aren't falling over themselves to read Bill Grieder finance stories today. He was a refugee from American journalism, just like many bloggers are today. Remember, the people we scorn today were the people who fit the idea of the ideal journalist. Judy Miller is what every editor, secretly dreams about, the sexy, tempestous man-crazy reporter. The fact that she's a tool for those in power doesn't discomfort them.

Bloggers are not some new creation, but the newest set of the barbarians at the gates. They are the people who don't trust the system and it's artifacts. It is to writing, what rap is to music, the coming of democracy to a trade. What Thompson and his peers did in the 60's and 70's, we do today. But free of the constraints of editors and publishers and the need to hustle up work.


Because of two different trends in writing.

One is the coopting of journalists. The insiders beat back the challenges from the Sheehans, Halberstams and Arnetts. Those who played the game won, those who didn't became heroes and authors, and exiled from the newsroom. Arnett hung on longer than most, but most were gone from the daily papers by 1975. Or they became enamored of celebrity, like Bob Woodward. Some like Sydney Schamberg and Ray Bonner, following in their tradition, were booted from newsrooms the minute their bosses felt uncomfortable. Or exiled to "alternative" papers. The newsroom became the home of the tame dissident and the complient office holder. Carl Hiaasen saves his most brutal critques of Florida life for his crime fiction. Bob Greene wrote drivel for years, finally canned, not for a lack of talent, but an excess of hunting teenaged trim. The best writing in the Washington Post is Tom Boswell's sports columns.

If people are disheartened by this, they shouldn't be. Ernie Pyle died 60 years ago this week, because he loved soldiers and the stories of their lives. Edward R. Murrow was forced out of CBS. Thompson was lucky in that since he was never inside the tent, they could never kick him out. But most of the great heroes of journalism were and will be forced from the newsroom, because that is not a place for uncomfortable truths. There has never been a national columnist like Jack Newfield or Mike Royko or Jimmy Breslin, and never will be. Because they will never play the game, or even recognize it.

Were he alive today, I like to think Gilly would be busy ventilating the stale air of the blogosphere with columns that would read a lot like this:

Which is why I miss him.

Every day.

UPDATE the 1st: Welcome Sun-Times readers.

UPDATE the 2nd: Welcome "Vanity Fair" readers.


Denny Smith said...

Those with the money are our masters.
Rail all we want---that is the reality.
Call it whatever we want--that is the reality.

jeanne marie said...

Steve was right.

We need him now more than ever. (And Molly Ivins, too).

litbrit said...

Who will be our next Molly? Gawd, I miss her so...

Excellent post, Drifty, as always.

Batocchio said...

Good shout-out.

Also, too.

prof fate said...

Jeez. Go Intertubes-less for a few days, and look at the posts I miss! Lashings of Blackened Bobo with a side of pulverized Breitbart ("People of the Lie" was simply brilliant), sprinkled with delightfully pertinent film clips, and topped off with a shot of nicely aged Steve Gilliard to put it all in its proper perspective.

Plus a vicious but well-deserved parting towel-snap at the Whiniest Master of the Universe of Them All.

There's almost too much bloggy goodness here to take in at one gulp.

Jezebel said...

I love you for invoking Mean Girls. You truly are aware of all internet traditions.

Suzan said...

We all miss him.

Those of us lucky enough to have known who he was and the type of journalism he exemplified.

As do you.

marcus said...

God do I miss Steve Gilliard. My favorite quality of Steve was his ability to cut through the crap--with his post and his rapid-fire responses to comments. Your work does him honor Drifty, keep up the good work.

US Blues said...

Your blog-father, who is one of the great voices of the medium, brought forth fine offspring.

Serving Patriot said...


Boy howdy would Gilly have a dilly with the latest journalism histrionics!

One of Steve's best moves was helping you leave the News Blog nest and go solo!

We are all poorer for the loss of his voice.


PS - can you imagine the fun he'd have with Mike Steele running the RNC!?!? :)

Monster from the Id said...

I'm surprised an honest fellow like Mike Royko could hold jobs for his working lifetime at regular, non-"alternative" newspapers.

Did Royko have photos of the newspaper owners getting frisky with farm animals or something like that? ^_^

And yes, the world is poorer for the loss of Royko, Ivins, and Gilliard.

But then, this universe is irremediably futile, and always will be so. (Second Law of Thermodynamics, aka entropy.)

redoubt said...

PS - can you imagine the fun he'd have with Mike Steele running the RNC!?!? :)

Between Steele and Palin there would have been no time for recipes. Talk about a target-rich environment. . . Also imagine the Twittercrashes from retweeting.

Drift, you've been reading my mind the last few months. There should be something like a Steve Gilliard Journalism Fellowship (and you should be one of the administrators).

PS: Word verification "presse": what we don't currently have in this country.

Jesse Wendel said...

Ah, you and me both, brother. You and me both.


deering said...

God, when I had the bad luck yesterday to catch Matthews and the Politico dude going Full High Dundgeon at the very suggestion that the mainstream media was at all responsible for spreading right-wing lies, I had the MEAN GIRL flashback of life. Nicely played, drift...:)

gypsy howell said...

I loved Gilly every single damn day. And I miss him every single damn day.

Peace to you Steve. And thanks driftyglass for keeping the flame alive.

Myrtle June said...

Checking in over here in the last week of summer school...exhausted. I feel like I'm coming up for air. AND some SWEEEEEEEEEET air is it IS!

It was apparent during the primary.... pissed me off.

Good one driftglass. So true that.

Jim in Chicago said...

Thanks for this Drifty. I miss Steve too!

tokyoterri said...

I miss Steve, too. thank you drifty, he would be even prouder of you...