David Talbot critiques Slate.

June 1996 - June 2006.
June 19 2006 6:13 PM

What's Wrong With Slate

It's shrill and superficial.

Editor's Note: This week Slatecelebrates its 10th anniversary, an occasion we are marking with nostalgia and self-congratulation. In the spirit of equal time, we've asked some of the magazine's most persistent critics to tell us what's wrong with Slate.

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The truth is that I read Slate—and Salon, or anything else for that matter, except the dead-tree New York Times—too little these days to offer any intelligent criticism, because I'm so deeply immersed in the world of John F. Kennedy for my book. So, I only have vague judgments about Web journalism in general based on my fleeting contacts with it—overall I find it shrill and superficial, a function of the triumph of the blog. There is not enough truly original thinking or reporting, not enough substantive work that challenges conventional wisdom of the right or left. Journalism in general seems dispirited these days, ground down by the relentlessly, sublimely idiotic Bush administration and the media industry's own lack of imagination. If our profession had any real bite—on or offline—Hillary Clinton would have been forced to grow some courage by now on Iraq if she wanted to remain her party's front-runner for 2008. I guess I'm dispirited, too, by journalism and politics. I'm more excited these days by long-form storytelling. I'm reading a lot of books and going to the movies—those pre-Web forms that show a lot of creative life lately. George Clooney is my hero.

David Talbot founded Salon and edited the Web publication for its first 10 years. He is working on a book about Robert Kennedy's secret efforts to solve the murder of his brother. He can be reached at talbotd@salon.com.

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