Anyone who is paying attention could hardly miss the children's crusade that is going on at the Oregonian. After the massive bloodletting of experienced (and expensive) reporters, there is a whole new gaggle of fresh faced (and cheap) reporters who look (thanks to the new little pictures that accompany their bylines on-line) all about 16 years old. Apparently this is happening everywhere. I have no doubt that these are skilled and well-trianed reporters, but they lack the experience and connections of those they replace. It could be that the energy and eagerness of the new crop might make up for this, but I have some reservations. I think we are losing a huge amount of human capital.
Anyway, what prompted this is a fascinating (and a bit troubling) article on the youth of the campaign press corps in the New York Times:
A group of five fresh-faced reporters from National Journal and CBS News clicked away on their MacBooks one recent afternoon, dutifully taking notes as seasoned journalists from the campaign trail shared their rules of the road.
The journalists were mostly in their 20s, learning the basics: never get too close to a source; master the art of eating while driving; never rely on a hotel wake-up call.
For decades, campaign buses were populated by hotshots, some of whom covered politics for decades, from Walter Mears to David S. Broder to Jules Witcover. It was a glamorous club, captured and skewered in Timothy Crouse’s best-selling “The Boys on The Bus,” about the 1972 campaign.
Now, more and more, because of budget cutbacks, those once coveted jobs are being filled by brand new journalists at a fraction of the salary. It is not so glamorous any more.
By the way, I still link to the NYT frequently despite the paywall (which I pay for) because apparently the paywall is easy to circumvent and, in fact some believe that it is intentionally so. So those that want to hassle with deleting part of the url can do so and get the content for free. Here are instructions. But even more to the point apparently if you follow a link to the NYT, you will never hit the paywall. Here is Felix Salmon: "The NYT paywall is so porous that it can be considered to be a genuinely freemium model. If you follow a link to the NYT site, you will never run into the paywall — no matter how many times you do so or how many NYT articles you’ve read that month."