How business journalism has changed in the last 25 years
Nick Sciple of The Motley Fool interviewed Vanity Fair business journalist Bethany McLean, and they talked about how business journalism has changed in the 21st century.
Here is an excerpt:
Sciple: Okay. I want to transition now to talking more broadly about financial journalism. You’ve been a well-known name in this industry for a long time. How has financial journalism changed since your career started?
McLean: Oh my God! [laughs] I mean, so dramatically. Some of us — I began my career working at Fortune amid kind of the last golden age of magazine print journalism, right. And so some of us who were there during the ’90s and 2000s, kind of, look back at that and say, we just didn’t realize how good we have it. We were spoiled. And you could work on two or three big stories a year. And, yeah, you know, things you’re doing had to pan out at some decent rate, but you’ve had a salary you could live on, and a fair amount of stability and not everything had to work. And that’s changed a lot.
You know, you still have a few big papers, obviously, like The Times and The Journal, where people have a fair amount of, I guess, career security, but every place else is more and more freelance and harder and harder. And my biggest, I guess, fear about that is the stories that don’t get done. The pieces that require a reach, a stretch that you don’t know if they’re going to come through, you don’t know if it’s going to work out, and they’re really time consuming. And if you’re a freelancer, you have very little incentive to work on one of those pieces, because if it doesn’t work out, you just don’t get paid.
So, that, I think, is one thing I worry about. I worry a lot with this pandemic that we have seen New York biased media coverage, and that it has really been a place where the death of local journalism has — and all of the job losses in local papers have been so profound. And so, the narrative has been dominated by a New York-based view of the world, which I think led economic considerations about places where the virus was not manifesting itself, to really get pushed aside for a long time, and allowed for a one-size-fits-all policy that will be a big detriment of this country.
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