I love the picture that accompanies The New York Times Magazine's Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail,
and not just because of the pearly glow reflecting off Ana Marie Cox's
bare skin, bathed in light from her laptop screen -- or from a cleverly
hidden photoflood. (The picture does look posed, but I expect
that on magazine covers.)
What I like most is the way the picture echoes a scene in The Boys in the Bus,
a critique of presidential campaign press coverage that came out while
I was a reporter. In that book, younger journalists were figuratively
(perhaps literally) looking over the shoulders of the veteran
presidential campaign reporters, trying to catch the lead angle
that the AP or The Times
would run the next morning. On the one hand, it reflected a healthy
respect for the old pros in the business; on the other, it warned of
the unhealthy herd instinct of the establishment press.
The Times' picture from last Sunday reverses the roles -- grandfatherly R.W. Apple of The Times
and Jack Germond of the Baltimore Sun, their checked shirts accenting
mature waistlines, peering over "Wonkette's" bare shoulders at
her laptop screen. The superimposed text points out the older
guys' 40-plus years of covering presidential campaigns -- versus, "Ana
Marie Cox, Wonkette.com: First presidential campaign -- but 430,000
page views per week, dudes!"
The article itself does paint stereotypical portraits of geeky
bloggers, "maverick, funny, mostly partisan and always
hypercaffeinated" -- but I think showing old-pro journalists taking an
interest in what webloggers are up to is a healthy sign... as long as
Wonkette's own take:
"Asks the Times, 'What does it all mean?' Why, it seems to mean that
Johnny Apple and Jack Germond will stunt pose for pretty much anything!"
Another Old Pro
Speaking of respected journalistic icons and "The Wayward Press," see this review of Just Enough Liebling, an anthology of the late A.J. Liebling's New Yorker press criticism and other writings.