After that first step it’s pretty much all downhill the rest of the way

It seems I could not have been any more wrong about change being slow: here are more positive developments resulting from last week’s “quote approval” story from the New York Times (thanks to Jim Romenesko for the tips this morning).

After the Associated Press stood up for itself, and on the heels of McClatchy and the National Journal announcing they would not permit their reporters to give interview subjects the right to approve direct quotations for publication, the editor of the American Journalism Review has stepped up to say what most good journalists have been thinking: everyone must agree to just say no.  The sure way to stop government and campaign officials from, in essence, writing the stories about themselves that you and I read is for journalists to stop agreeing to this “pernicious practice.”

The editors at Bloomberg have made it as clear as can be—it’s one thing to negotiate to move an off-the-record quote on the record, but

What isn’t fine is sending quotes to the source or a press office for their revision or rewriting. In such a case, you would no longer know who is actually uttering/writing the words, and it is no longer a negotiation but a surrender of editorial control.

OK then, any other journalists out there still good with surrendering their editorial control?  Let’s see a show of hands…

Star Wars analogies, girls in bikinis, and the spirit of journalism

I’m not the most cynical person around when it comes to the practice of journalism today…really, I’m not. If I was completely cynical about what passes for a lot of the journalism being published these days—if I believed it was a lost cause, a total sellout to the evil forces of what David Shaw called “the four horsemen of the journalistic apocalypse: superficiality, sensationalism, preoccupation with celebrity, and obsession with the bottom line”—then I wouldn’t bother talking about it at all; there’d be no point. I feel there’s still some good in there, or can be, perhaps in the way that Luke Skywalker could feel the Anakin Skywalker that still remained within Darth Vader. I must still try to turn it back to the good side of the Force.

Many of my contemporaries in the post-Watergate generation went into journalism with an idealized and inflated vision of what journalists could do, and we really did (and do) believe in the vital importance of the role of journalism as a watchdog over government power, a role that was understood and respected by the Founding Fathers to a far greater extent than it is by today’s civic and government leaders and a growing percentage of the general public. But without doubt, the excitement of being a reporter was part of the attraction, too.

Jim Romenesko linked to a recent Brain Pickings post highlighting a 1940 Encyclopedia Britannica film from the Your Life Work series, which called the film an “idealistic manifesto for the deeper ethos of journalism as a calling.” Yea…and it’s funny to see how they were selling it to the pre-World War II student body; enjoy…

While you’re at it, take a look at this video that fights against itself trying to disprove the idea that a pretty girl in a bikini is not necessarily a distraction to effective instruction.

And when you’re done, nose around Brain Pickings…some interesting stuff there on the notion of creativity.

Life imitates art that makes people laugh; Life nearly as funny

I ran across this short post today calling attention to a new site that’s tracking real newspaper headlines that read like the front page of The Onion.  When you’ve got folks going with headlines like “Man pulls knife on friends, runs away, hits head, injures self” and “God caught backing multiple candidates” you may not need professional comedy to ease the woes of a bad day at work, but I like to be prepared so I’m heading off to The Juice Box to see what my last-place Houston Astros (now featuring the worst record in both leagues!) have to offer.

UPDATE, later the same night: after battling to limit the Braves to just nine runs in the first five innings, our heroes played them even the rest of the way for a classic 11-4 loss.  And, they won the all-important LOB battle 8-7!