Media

Liebling on experts

And speaking of A.J. Liebling (as I did in my previous post), here’s something else he wrote circa 1961. (He died in 1963.):

There are three kinds of writers of news in our generation. In inverse order of worldly consideration, they are:

1. The reporter, who writes what he sees.

2. The interpretive reporter, who writes what he sees and what he construes to be its meaning.

3. The expert, who writes what he construes to be the meaning of what he hasn’t seen.

To combat an old human prejudice in favor of eyewitness testimony, which is losing ground even in our courts of law, the expert must intimate that he has access to some occult source or science not available to either reporter or reader. He is the Priest of Eleusis, the man with the big picture. Once his position is conceded, the expert can put on a better show than the reporter. All is manifest to him, since his conclusions are not limited by his powers of observation. Logistics, to borrow a word from the military species of the genus, favor him, since it is possible to not see many things at the same time. For example, a correspondent cannot cover a front and the Pentagon simultaneously. An expert can, and from an office in New York, at that.

I wonder what he would have thought of bloggers.

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