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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cheers! I'm a journalist

Jack Shafer's written a nice post about liqour in the newsroom. The post was in response to the editor of the Cincinnati Post asking staff not to bring in booze on their last day - the afternoon paper has shut down after 126 years. It's a nice read with some smart observations about how journalists see themselves:

"Journalists identify with larger-than-life personalities, because that's how they see themselves. Deny the journalist his self-image as a rule-bending individualist and you might as well replace him with a typist.
"Wise editors know when and how to encourage newsroom insubordination, as opposed to squelching it, because they appreciate Bob Woodward's aphorism, 'All good work is done in defiance of management.' By giving the newsroom the opportunity to stand up to him, the wise editor instructs his reporters in the advanced techniques of standing up to CEOs and politicians. The wise editor understands that quality journalism requires a bad attitude, foul words, a brawl, and sometimes a drink afterward."

In the midst of it comes a surprising reference to US journalists having to undergo drug tests. He points to this blog post about it by LA Times staffer Matt Welch. That's certainly never been required of me, in the UK, NZ, Ireland or Vietnam. How about you?

Interested to know, too, what an assistant editorial page editor does (it's Matt's title).