Letters to the Editor
Readers write about professors taking on the role of journalists to save the struggling newspaper industry, and why the US needs to back up its peace talk with actions in Gaza.
Journalists are vital to newspapers' survival
Regarding the March 9 Opinion piece, "Professors could rescue newspapers": Author Jonathan Zimmerman's proposal to rescue newspapers by having professors write the copy is patently absurd. He thinks professors can do as good a job as journalists in delivering the news of the day. I'm afraid he's confusing commentary and opinion writing with newsgathering. And for journalists like me, that's insulting, as well.
Mr. Zimmerman also suggests that professors can write about long-term trends, but neglects to consider the aggregate reporting that went into identifying those trends in the first place.
Chances are, in writing any of his analytical articles, Zimmerman did a LexisNexis or Google search of some reporters' articles on the topic. And guess what? Those reporters spent a lot of time on the streets talking to people, gathering that information, verifying its accuracy, and organizing it into coherence.
We see ourselves as professionals who bring something of value to the table. We also think we ought to be paid for it.
All Jonathan Zimmerman has to offer with this commentary is a history lesson and an idea that has no basis in reality.
As both an academic and a freelance journalist, I would love nothing better than to see recognition for the valuable work being done by some scholars that reaches beyond the academy's borders. But it needs to be more than what tends to pass for public intellectualism in the academy – articles tossed off as an afterthought to scholarly research.
Many professors are fine analysts in their fields, and some are great at explaining new developments and insights. That expertise is valuable, and journalists often call on it as they research stories that involve diverse sources.
But here's something Mr. Zimmerman may be surprised to learn: Journalists also have expertise. Often, their job involves translating the writing and speeches of professors and other specialists who may be brilliant but whose expertise may not extend to clear expression.