News Junkie Smackdown

How the Web Makes My Job as Columnist Harder
Policy made plain.
July 22 2009 3:14 PM

News Junkie Smackdown

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Hi. I may be a little unhelpful this morning as I've been sidetracked by my column, which is about the Skip Gates episode. This kind of story is God's gift to columnists—offbeat, bizarre, full of comic detail, and yet touching on all sorts of important issues. Trouble is, all columnists are going to be tempted by it, and there may not be enough aperçus to go around. The Web both helps and hurts in such a situation. It helps in that you can check what all the bloggers and other columnists are saying to make sure that what strikes you as a brilliant insight isn't actually a tired cliché. It hurts in that the journey from fresh insight to tired cliché takes about half an hour rather than a couple of days.

It's interesting that both Tim and Sam chose the Dreamliner story. I would like to hear from the Web-only folks in D.C.: Did this story appear on your radar and, if so, how? Was it No. 1? I doubt it. This is a good example of the kind of thing that Drudge and the Daily Beast aren't going to care much about.

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As for the California budget story, I suspect that this is one where the main advantage of the Web is the ability to get the Los Angeles Times. Sam, as an alum, how did the LAT do with this story? If they can't own it, it's really over for them.

And yet it has obvious implications for everyone. California managed to cut $26 billion from their budget. Other states will have to impose similar cuts—and the federal government will, too, over the next few years. And there's the political angle. Arnold's stock has plummeted in the past few years. Is it soaring today? 

Michael Kinsley is a columnist for the Washington Post and the founding editor of Slate.

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