We Old Journalists Think We Were Lucky—We Were Given the Time and Money to Do Good Work

We had one of our old journalists lunches last week in Washington. We have a good time at these lunches, telling stories about our lives in journalism and talking politics, books, and sports.

We understand we were lucky. We think we had journalism’s best years—from the 1960s until the digital revolution capsized the business 10 years ago.

We enjoyed relative stability—we were given the time and money to do good work. We had bosses and readers who were interested in both timely news and great long-form stories.

We think it was better that we didn’t get instant feedback telling us that shorter stories get more clicks, that negative stories get more clicks, that a catchy headline is crucial—come up with that and then do some reporting.

What do we read now? Mostly the Washington Post and New York Times, some of us on paper, some on iPads, plus a lot of books. I get the Washington Post delivered seven days a week and the Wall Street Journal six days, mostly for its non-business coverage. I get the Sunday New York Times on paper, $10 a week, but it’s worth it mostly for the book section; it gets saved for months.

Some of us like Lit Hub, the Writer’s Almanac, Poynter, CJR Editors, and other sites that focus on journalism or books. I can’t remember the last time anyone mentioned any of the clickbait digital sites—life is too short to waste time on those.

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