I was on vacation last week, which you may have guessed from the lack of content and the photo above. I find as I get older, the mere state of not working is about all I need. The list of things I didn’t do on vacation is much longer than the list of things I did. But I did make great progress on the Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit.” It’s a great story of the friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and its ultimate unravelling. But it deals in almost equal measure with what Goodwin considers the “golden age” of journalism. It was an age of intense competition among newspapers, vitriolic commentary, and intense partisanship. It was also a time where “muckraking” reporters wrote long investigative pieces that had an impact on legislation. Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” had a lot to do with the enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act.
So Goodwin’s passionate portrayal of the power of journalism was on my mind as I returned to work, and saw this post from Wired. It’s a collection of thoughts on the future of online journalism. And it’s not depressing. And while I am all for looking forward, I can’t help but wonder if in these times, which Goodwin compares to the Industrial Age, the key to saving the industry is with the kind of aggressive, intelligent journalism that exposed the corruption and venality in federal, state and local governments. It worked on several levels then, and I believe it could work as well now.