American journalism’s economic problem

You can pick out what that economic problem is here:

According to the Columbia report, Erdely, who spent six months working on the piece,

The magazine provided unfettered access during the investigation, including a 405-page record of Erdely’s interviews and research notes as well as access to original audio recordings,

On Sunday evening, the 9,000-word article, A Rape on Campus, was removed from Rolling Stone’s website

6 months, 405 pages of notes, in order to produce 9,000 words of complete bollocks?

That’s a serious economic problem they’ve got there.

This long form journalism is what the Americans consider to be the epitome, the acme, of journalism. And there’s no way at all that Rolling Stone paid less than $50k to get it. Quite possibly double that with expenses.

10 thoughts on “American journalism’s economic problem”

  1. It was never supposed to be journalism as the term is current understood: it was supposed to be propaganda. That comes with no price, provided the narrative is advanced.

  2. I am amazed that US publications can survive with such indulgence, or that anyone wants to read their tedious wordy drivel.

    I once saw a New Yorker article about an obscure alt-folk singer-songwriter which ran to around 17 pages. Her entire published oeuvre (an album and a couple of EPs) was about 15 songs.

  3. An old fashioned hack on the crime desk would have done this story in a couple of days. Trawled the local A&E for admissions for cuts by glass, found a couple of the frat boys, etc.

    As a colour piece it might have even got published, with lots of allegedly, and winks to the probability it has as much contact with reality as a London bus on the moon.

    Six months of doing nothing that looks like journalism. Thank God we don’t have the budget for this level of bullshit.

  4. I want a job writing articles for the “Rolling Stone magazine” earning $50-100,000 per article. I will bring them controversy beyond any known in human time (well Eastern Standard Time at least) .

    Together with my £67000 per annum Guardian column replacing Monbiot, I will have at last fought my way out of the under-class and will be in sight of the Promised Land of permanent membership of the MIDDLE CLASS. All that then remains is to receive A Christmas card from Cherie and Toni and I can die a happy man.

  5. MC: the New Yorker is, and always has been, in brutal competition with Readers Digest. Hence it is obliged to ensure that all of its articles are interminable.

  6. I first saw American journalism fifty years ago: NYT; Time; Newsweek; and the third weekly the name of which escapes me – perhaps American News Report and something or other.

    The whole pack of them had less merit than The Telegraph, or The Times, or Le Frog.

    Goodness me, they were tedious, slow-paced, dull, formulaic, and generally unreadable. Reader’s Digest, by contrast, had been a perfectly good read for a child of, what, fourteen or fifteen.

  7. Rolling Stone actually has some very interesting stuff, very well written. The New Yorker too. Trouble is you have to wade through stacks of shite to get to it.

    (The New Yorker’s cartoons are uniformly unfunny, and are a future anthropologist’s treasure trove of uptight liberal American concerns.)

  8. This is why we need State funding of journalism. Desperately needed pieces like this are now too expensive for mere publications to fund. Sure, poor people will be taxed to pay for ridiculous packs of lies pushing the Agenda, but no one said the road to the promised land would be easy.

  9. There are some New Yorker cartoons that are quite clever

    As for Rolling Stone, I stopped reading that after I graduated from law school and gave up the DJ gig. May have to start again, as I seem to have migrated to having clients in the music industry again

  10. Didn’t P.J. O’Rourke work for Rolling Stone? Would love to read his take on this, but perhaps it’s changed since his day.

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