The Washington Post

Jack Shafer on ‘reproducible’ journalism

On this “web extra” of Howard Kurtz’s CNN show, “Reliable Sources,” Jack Shafer calls the host “a slow-moving target that bleeds profusely when hit.”

That was a joke, of course, but the session yields a couple of quotable moments. Kurtz asks Shafer about the democratization of media criticism and why we still need professionals like Shafer himself. The reply from Slate’s outgoing media critic:

My editors..., until I was laid off, thought I was the best and paid me commensurate with that assessment.

Which is the sad aspect of the recent round of Slate layoffs. Editor David Plotz cited “financial and editorial future reasons” for the moves. Shafer’s commensurate-with-the-best salary had to make him among the best downsizing targets on staff.

And in a discussion about what Shafer intellectually terms journalistic “truth value,” he tells Kurtz, “That’s what the best journalism does — it’s reproducible.”

That’s it! That’s it! Shafer could not possibly have hit on a more topical theme for the Erik Wemple Blog. All week long, we’ve been struggling to find corroboration for the New York Post’s Jewish Michele Bachmann story.

As Shafer might say, we’re trying to reproduce the scoop. And it’s quite a production.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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