Class Warfare Blog

August 6, 2016

The NYTimes: On the Slippery Slope and Accelerating

Journalism is suffering or, rather, we are suffering from a steep decline in the quality of journalism. Schlock and shoddy journalism has always been with us and always will, because it is cheap. If I may quote an executive of the National Enquirer magazine in court, “Everybody knows we make this stuff up.”

High quality journalism, though, is expensive. And, unfortunately the funding base for high quality journalism has evaporated. First on TV, where news divisions were not expected to make money but now they do, to newspapers, which used to be somewhat profitable and now are marginal at best.

The result has been that a great many journalists have been fired and a great many good journalists have retired and been replaced by, well, poorer journalists.

I was reading a column in today’s Times (“We’re in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here?” by Neil Erwin, Senior economic correspondent at The New York Times’ The Upshot column in which he refers to an interview with Larry Summers, economist and former Obama administration economic advisor:

Mr. Summers, in an interview, frames it as an inversion of ‘Say’s Law,’ the notion that supply creates its own demand: that economywide, people doing the work to create goods and services results in their having the income to then buy those goods and services.
In this case, rather, as he has often put it: ‘Lack of demand creates lack of supply.’”

Apparently the good reporter missed something in translation, because the “framing” is a bit upside down. Say’s law has been widely discredited (and in economics that means “doesn’t work” rather than it is flawed logically or whatever) and the fact that demand drives supply is long standing economic principle.

The way it is stated it appears that Say’s Law is the operative principle, but in these unusual times it has been inverted (“In this case, rather …”). So, “normal” is declared to be an aberration.

Do realize that many folks still quote Say’s Law as if it were valid because it supports the fiction that is supply-side economics (which has also been thoroughly discredited (aka doesn’t work), just look at the last 35 years as evidence).

So this piece implies that Say’s Law is valid and an unwary reader would have that “factoid” reinforced.

Only a savvy journalist would note that either Mr. Summers misspoke or he was speaking ironically or was actually trying to counter the zombie idea of Say’s Law (zombie ideas are those that refuse to die because they are propped up for various reasons).

In any case, we lose when the quality of journalism declines and decline it has. We are on the slippery slope and accelerating. Soon, someone on the N.Y. Times staff is going to say “Everybody knows we make this stuff up.”

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6 Comments »

  1. Well said. At leat we have good ol savvy you to pick up the slack!

    Like

    Comment by Zach — August 6, 2016 @ 11:56 am | Reply

    • Yeah, now I am a public intellectual … as if I were not despised enough!

      ;o)

      On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 11:56 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 6, 2016 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  2. That’s what sacking 300 editors does…

    Like

    Comment by john zande — August 6, 2016 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

    • Yep, and replacing lost gems with relative rocks.

      On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 1:20 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 6, 2016 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

      • I like that!

        Like

        Comment by john zande — August 6, 2016 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

        • I’m flattered that you do. I was afraid it might be too subtle for folks.

          On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 4:18 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 6, 2016 @ 9:42 pm | Reply


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