He said it: Bentley Hart on “Journalism”

All the common caveats apply to DBH quotes:

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose. At least, that is its purest and most minimal essence. There are, of course, practitioners of the trade who possess talents of a higher order—the rare ability, say, to produce complex sentences and coherent paragraphs—and they tend to occupy the more elevated caste of “intellectual journalists.” These, however, are rather like “whores with hearts of gold”: more misty figments of tender fantasy than concrete objects of empirical experience. Most journalism of ideas is little more than a form of empty garrulousness, incessant gossip about half-heard rumors and half-formed opinions, an intense specialization in diffuse generalizations. It is something we all do at social gatherings—creating ephemeral connections with strangers by chattering vacuously about things of which we know nothing—miraculously transformed into a vocation.

So…

He continues.

All right, I suppose that all sounds a little spiteful. I take it back. I am perfectly aware that there are quite a few men and women of considerable gifts laboring in the fields of journalism, and that some figures of genuine literary eminence have risen from the ranks of the profession. …

Still, it seems fair to me to note that what a journalist does for a living does not, in itself, require him or her to be a scholar, an artist, a philosopher, or even particularly good at sorting through abstract ideas. And, really, it is hard both to meet a regular deadline and also to pause long enough to learn anything new, or waste much time even following one’s own arguments.

 

Which brings me to Adam Gopnik, and specifically his New Yorker article of February 17, “Bigger Than Phil”…

Read the rest, if you like: LINK

Why he thinks that the Gopnik article is “portentous”: “Simply said, we have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible.”

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