Political Exchange



Political Reporting


Read all the remarks from:
Edwin Diamond
  • Round One
  • Round Two
  • Round Three
  • Round Four Questions and Answers
  • Round Five

    Sarah McClendon

  • Round One
  • Round Two
  • Round Three
  • Round Four Questions and Answers
  • Round Five

    Paul Starobin

  • Round One
  • Round Two
  • Round Three
  • Round Four Questions and Answers
  • Round Five


  • Remarks From Paul Starobin

    By Paul Starobin
    May 5, 1997

    This exercise has been interesting. I feel humble. Our culture is evolving in ways that are impossible to predict. The changes will undoubtedly have an impact on journalism, but it is anyone's guess how it will shake out.

    Take the Net. As Sarah said, the Net could well be a force for the dispersal of government outside of Washington, since the technology makes it easier for folks to get things done without having to be in the same place. If things go in this direction, the national press corps will have to adjust and (gasp!) set up tents outside the Beltway. Then again, analysts, for the same reason, have long been predicting the demise of Wall Street-and it hasn't really happened. It seems possible for the tentacles of power, financial or political, to spread into the nooks and crannies of society in the Information Age while retaining a kind of centralized node. So I'm not sure we'll see the end of Washington as "the place" anytime soon. We may just see a spider with a more comprehensive reach. (Other animal metaphors come to mind, but I'll stop at the spider).

    If what's at issue is the future of political journalism, I think the most important trend is not technology but the age of "antipolitics" in which we are living. I'm not sure of the root causes. Folks seem to be variously angry / depressed / apathetic about political life. They say they want more investigative reporting; they also say they don't believe the media. Horserace journalism seems to appeal only to the junkies but I have yet to hear a cry, outside of elite idea circles, for gobs and gobs of substance. Meanwhile, gossip, scandal, personality stuff sells as well as ever. I know it's a cliche, but the pubic really does seem to regard politicians as a class of Grade B Hollywood actors, playing unlikable characters. They seem profoundly alienated from the whole scene. Twas' ever thus? Maybe, but it seems worse than ever.

    Journalism attracts its share of shallow cads, but also loads of creative, well-motivated souls. My fear is that the constituency for good journalism is shrinking. Sorry for ending on a down note-thanks for the platform. I'm interested in your thought on this subject. E-mail me at pstarobi@njdc.com. Bye.