Interesting observation

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen makes an interesting observation on the so-called interactive media. I don’t happen to agree with his original ire-provoking column in which he opined that Stephen Colbert was not funny during his bit at the recent White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner. I think Colbert was hilarious. Brutal, perhaps, but funny and possessing some acerbic and pointed observations. I also think Cohen sounds like he is whining in this column, but I can forgive him for that transgression.

When the paper I used to work for first began placing our phone number and e-mail addresses in a “shirt-tail” below our stories, I thought it pretty much sucked. I did manage to talk my boss into exempting the police blotter from the practice, as I was then the police reporter and was just inundated with people bitching about this and that. (“My boy ain’t guilty!” “That accident wasn’t my fault!”) It was pretty much self-serving central. Eventually, I came to accept the practice of the shirttail as a necessary evil. It was becoming the norm in the business. It did on occasion produce some decent story tips. But I still didn’t like it because I would say it was a good 80-20% that someone was bitching, calling you an idiot or worse, and usually didn’t have the guts to put a name to it either by phone or e-mail.

So I can relate to Cohen’s complaint about a digital lynch mob. It is an unfortunate byproduct of what is wonderful technology, the Internet and e-mail. But, sad to say, such discourse does not mean the result is always thoughtful commentary.

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