Is a big newspaper a military-style organization—or factory in disguise?

The Pentagon - Wikipedia - Public domain photo Military veterans have been some of the most appreciative readers of The Solomon Scandals.

I’m not surprised. Jon Stone, the newsroom maverick, is rebelling against a Pentagon-inflexible bureaucracy headed by an intel alum wired into D.C.’s old boy network. From Chapter 32:

“What was Mac’s city room but a military organization at the core, despite the personal eccentricities and dramas of the journalists—a machine like a Japanese whaling fleet, the Chicago police force, or a global oil company?

Wikipedia - GNU-FDL-licensed shot of VW factory in Germany “The cogs and belts needed to be in alignment lest typos creep in or careless skepticism offend the wrong advertisers. Just as with our thunderous presses—tons of steel, myriads of moving parts—nothing major could slip out of place. Bloody injuries might otherwise result. And yet the most gifted reporters were compulsively curious, the very trait that must evaporate whenever the bosses of the word mill wanted it to.”

Agree or not? Do keep in mind the pre-Web era of Scandals’ main plot, the 1970s. Laudably some news organizations such as the Washington Post are now experiencing with unconventional techniques such as crowdsourcing—in this case, turning crowds loose online to look through documents that the pros may not have time to inspect fully before deadline. That approach helped the Post home in on Diapergate. Traditional journalists sticking to a more structured military approach would never experiment this way. Brother, we’ve got first dubs on the information!

imageEven if you’re never set foot in a newspaper office, how do you feel from afar about newspapers and military-type control issues? Come on, don’t be bashful. Let’s get some interactivity going. And while you’re at it, tell me what you’d most like me to write about.

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David Rothman

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