For all the problems we have with Slate, we wouldn't be able to live without it. Christopher Hitchens is like that loud, drunk uncle we never had, while media critic Jack Shafer is the cranky grandpa we never had, telling us to stop being such nancy boys, but kind enough to offer ways to correct our errors.
The topic du jour is the death of the newspaper (again), and Shafer is tired of hearing journalists complaining about staff cuts. On Monday, he wrote a column about how journalists overstate their value to society, and pointed out that newspapers often don't do their own investigations. Wednesday, he wrote another column, this time about how journalists overstate their value to society, and pointed out that newspapers often don't do their own investigations.
Shafer does give us this entertaining nugget though.
Scratch a serious reporter, and he'll offer volumes about the "public service" his newspaper performs in the form of investigations: It watchdogs government. It keeps corporations honest. It uncovers the dastardly deeds of foreign dictators and prevents genocide. It exposes quacks and charlatans. (It turns the common man into a Socrates if he reads the editorials!)
Newspaper people have enormous egos, if you get my drift, and don't mind massaging the big hairy things in public.
Still, he really needs to stop beating on that dead horse, however easy it might be. We wouldn't keep coming back to the same subject over and over again, never.