Saturday, May 20, 2006

The fishy memoir of Howell Raines, press critic. By Jack Shafer:

Establishing himself as the Sen. Joseph McCarthy of press criticism, Raines names no underperforming reporters or dimwitted editors in his sweeping critique of the Times. He cites no specific dull, tedious, or ossified coverage in the underperforming paper. He scalds "brainless bloggers," too, but doesn't name any. He only gets specific about the various species of fish he's stalked, tortured, slaughtered, and eaten on four continents and a few oceans: salmon, sailfish, snapper, bonefish, marlin, crappies, sunfish, striped bass, bluegill, pickerel, walleye, catfish, carp, shad, and brook, brown, and rainbow trout, among others.

Raines blames "militant traditionalists" and "lifers" inside the Times—also unnamed—for preventing the paper from achieving its potential: They "didn't want to see the old hulk change its heading by so much as a single degree." A "heretic minority" of "subversives," of whom Raines is the only one named, opposed the lifers and were "salted away on all the [Times] building's fifteen floors, a kind of secret society."

I haven't observed this kind of self-service up close since the last time I pumped my own gas.

8:25 PM