Jimmy Breslin and a world long gonePosted: Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Not so long ago, reporters like Jimmy Breslin would hate being called “journalists” — it was too fancy a word for them. The newspaper business has always been a white collar world, but back in the day, you could make a case to consider reporters out on the beat “blue collar.” Many of them didn’t have college degrees — shit, some of them probably didn’t finish high school. But they were street-smarter and better than most of today’s journalists. Instead of looking up to someone like Jimmy Breslin — who learned his trade out on the beat — they now instead learn in the classroom; it’s all theoretical and none of it practical. Sadly, none of the MBA-types and Corporate boot-lickers running newsrooms today share this view. Young reporters learned that lesson well — they idolized the Ivy League writers of Washington and flocked to grad school. Now most of them are J-School grads, with a ton of Ivy Leaguers and too many Grad School grads — they’re the best classroom-educated bunch of journalists in history — but all they want to write about is Britney and Paris Hilton.
The newspaper world is not a better place for it. It was a better place because of Jimmy Breslin, but he’s one of the last of a dying breed of a world long gone.
Here’s a good story from the Times: When asked about “how modern journalism became so lame,” Breslin replied: “Because everybody comes to work in a suit.”