BLEAK HOUSE: To anyone worried about a future in the media business, Atlantic columnist and reality TV savant Michael Hirschorn summed up the predicament rather brutally: “If you’re Seymour Hersh, you’re fine. If you’re writing captions for Glamour, you’re not.”
Hirschorn’s argument, made at an Atlantic dinner Tuesday evening, was that quality investigative reporting would find a way to be paid for, even as the institutions that have traditionally supported it unravel. But Hirschorn’s interlocutor, the magazine’s blogger and writer Andrew Sullivan, was reluctant to say media companies should start charging for content. “It would mean a dramatic shrinkage in your readership,” he said. “Today, there’s no barrier of entry to being a media entity, and the ‘authorita’ of existing institutions is hanging in the air. Everybody is suddenly their equal, and there’s too much competition to suddenly draw lines around content. The revolution is too big.”
As for original reporting, he said, it would be more “direct”: “testimony from people already there, raw data already available.” He noted that key findings in the torture memos released by the Obama administration were spotted by a blogger before The New York Times. Foreign reporting, he said, could come from directly accessing foreign news sources online.
Sullivan does, however, still read The New York Times “on dead tree.”
— Irin Carmon