Saturday, January 30, 2010

Media criticism FAIL

I've come close a few times to posting here about Jack Shafer, Slate's press critic. I'm always up for good media criticism, and Shafer sometimes offers that. I'm also always up for pointing out bad media criticism, and Shafer occasionally delivers that too. For an example of the former, see this article of his on the mindless use of hyperlinks. It's right on. For an example of the latter -- which usually manifests itself in his case as a lack of perspective -- I'll send you over to Kate at Cali-for-nyaah, who (in a post I bookmarked long ago) puts it much better than I could:
In his better moments, Mr. Shafer is a impish avenging angel, swooping down on weasel words and wringing the breath from ill-researched trend stories. For these acts of righteous journalistic vengeance, I have nothing but gratitude. But for whatever reason, Mr. Shafer is drawn to the Personal Yarn as if it were the journalistic killing fields, site of all that is horrifying and unethical in the world.
Yes: when he found out David Sedaris's "nonfiction" essays aren't 100 percent true, Shafer was OUTRAGED. I suppose that should have been a sign, looking back, that he approaches his job with a tad more credulity than is healthy.

I say all that because this week he took notice of Scott Horton's devastating Harper's article on the so-called suicides at Guantanamo, and the results were embarrassing. I posted about it at dotCommonweal, so I'll send you there for the rest (and the relevant links). However, if you haven't yet read Horton's piece for Harper's, please go there instead. Your time will be better spent reading the original article than reading about pathetic attempts to debunk same.

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