“Newsrooms have grown detached from their mission,”

Mark Judge:

Referencing one of those semi-regular and boring reports about the state of journalism, Noonan concludes with this:

What was really striking was there was no mention, not one, of the thrill of the chase, of getting the story—of journalism itself. It was all about the guck and mess, not the mission, and made them look like news bureaucrats, joyless grinds, self-infatuated bores.

Growing up with a father who was an editor at National Geographic, as well as with older brothers who introduced me to Hunter Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, to me journalism always meant that someone went out and found something cool to write about. Yes, there were columnists like George F. Will and Maureen Dowd who formulated opinions from their armchairs, but the main thrill of journalism was entering the world of a writer who had pursued and delivered a story. Even the movie critics and cultural writers found stories by exploring their subjects, and filled their reviews with insights and wisdom that came from long years of experience.

On the same day Noonan’s essay appeared at the Journal, movie critic Ty Burr published a beautiful eulogy for Donald Sutherland in The Washington Post. “I’ve always said that a movie critic who only knows about movies isn’t going to be very useful,” Burr once said,” that critics should know about life, because you’re really writing about life through the lens of the movies.” 

It’s a long way down from that to Taylor Lorenz.

Knowledgeable and wise, Burr’s piece could not have been written by a younger journalist. It reveals a writer who learned his craft through experience and earned his place by virtue of merit, not nepotism or politics. Burr was a movie programmer for HBO in the 1980s, so he became an expert in his subject through immersion. In his great book Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame, Burr wrote:


Matt Taibbi, one of the last working journalists in the west.