Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Sad State of News - What Goes Around...

Russian Journal

Russian Journal

I’ve just been reading A Russian Journal, written in 1948 by John Steinbeck with photography by Robert Capa. The quick description is: “A memoir that takes not only to Moscow and Stalingrad (now Volgograd) but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus.”

I’d recommend it, and not only for its clear style (it’s Steinbeck), and its insights into just post-WWII Russia form an American perspective but also for the following sentiment about the state of news writing in 1948, which is being repeated as if newly minted all over the Internet in 2015 by those of us mourning some ‘Golden Age of News’.


A play I had written four times had melted and run out between my fingers. I sat on the bar stool wondering what to do next. At that moment Robert Capa came into the bar looking a little disconsolate. A poker game he had been nursing for several months had finally passed away. His book had gone to press and he found himself with nothing to do. Willy, the bartender, who is always sympathetic, suggested a Suissesse, a drink which Willy makes better than anybody else in the world. We were depressed, not so much by the news but by the handling of it.


For news is no longer news, at least that part of it which draws the most attention. News has become a matter of punditry. A man sitting at a desk in Washington or New York reads the cables and rearranges them to fit his own mental pattern and his by-line. What we often read as news now is not news at all but the opinion of one of half a dozen pundits as to what that news means.


More info on the book here.



The Sad State of News - What Goes Around...