Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Down with newspaper columnists

Jack Shafer, in bashing Kristof, gives all the columnists what for.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make a newspaper columnist. Most columnists start off with a bag full of ideas and endless energy. But the job begins to weigh on even the most talented journalist. He starts writing columns about columns he's written, about his kids, or about the deaths of relatives. He composes columns as open letters to world leaders—or writes from inside their heads. He quotes cab drivers. His columns become more assertion than argument. Finally, he starts picking silly, protracted fights with other media machers.

I don't know why newspapers continue to give so much space to columnists. Let them start blogs, or stick them in gated communities like TimesSelect. I'd rather see an op-ed from someone who knows what he's talking about than hear another word from Brooks or Dowd.

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