Garrison Keillor’s writing can dazzle. That’s one reason I sometimes
read him. Another reason is that his oddball incoherence can free a
reader to cherry-pick sentences and ponder them. Take, for example,
Keillor’s recent syndicated essay on journalism (or health care, take your pick) in the New York Times. What is he really trying to say? It’s open to interpretation (if only that damn song he’s infected readers with would leave).
On new media: “It isn’t so transitory as newspapers and TV. Good stuff
sticks around and people e-mail it to friends and slowly it floods the
On the loss of investigative journalism such as Watergate: “… there
would be nobody in the forest to hear that particular tree fall. And
that would be just fine. All we got from those enormous Old Media
events, frankly, was entertainment. They were no more enlightening than
a Harold Robbins novel.”
“… there won’t be newspapers to send reporters to cover the next war, but there will be 6 million teenage girls blogging about their plans for the weekend …. The U.S. will be a nation of unpaid freelance journalists and memoirists. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
On journalism schools: Set up to “create a cadre of reliable
transcribers. That was their role, crushing writers and rolling them
into cookie dough.”
On bloggers: “Nobody who compares newspaper writing to the
swashbuckling world of blogging can have any doubt where the future
lies. Bloggers are writers who’ve been liberated from editors, and some
of them take you back to the thrilling days of frontier journalism,
before the colleges squashed the profession.”
What does Keillor think about new media? Maybe he’s really addressing only American health care. Who the hell knows? Who cares?