Friday, February 23, 2007
Thanks to our large number of national newspapers - not for long, I fear - British print journalism can reasonably claim to be the best in the world. It's certainly the toughest. American journalism, however, takes itself more seriously. Hackery over there is a heroic profession and is celebrated in movies like All the President's Men and Good Night, and Good Luck. US journalism is, as a result, inclined towards pomposity, British journalism towards piracy. But, paradoxically, the British are much better at comment. Consider this article from the New York Times. Bob Herbert's point is that we shouldn't spend so much time on Anna Nicole Smith when there are so many important things to think about. And, er, that's it. The NYT is full of such meagre stuff. Compare any of it with the material on or linked to Danny Finkelstein's Comment Central. The overwhelming superiority of British comment journalism is clear. On the other hand, the Americans are better at long, intensively researched pieces. Look at this extended anti-Cheney article in GQ. Sure, it's a polemic but it has a kind of thoroughness you don't often see in the British press. Also the Americans have big news magazines - notably the superb Atlantic - full of utterly definitive essays. US mags, in short, are better, the newspapers worse. In Britain, you have to read the papers. In America, you don't.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:49 am