Watch CBSN Live

The Important Thing Is That You Hate Your Work?

Is it more important for a journalist to hate the news than to love it? That's the rather counterintuitive argument made by David Blum in today's New York Sun (hat tip – Romenesko). Keying off of the argument made last week by New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley that TV news is in some ways much better today than the "golden days," Blum writes:
The truth is that we still gravitate most to those who, like Mr. Cronkite, look with arched skepticism at government institutions and military interventions. We don't want the bland leading the bland; we rightly reward reporters like CNN's Anderson Cooper and the top-rated anchor on television, NBC's Brian Williams, both of whom take activist roles by hammering away at waste, mismanagement, and abuse, just like Mr. Cronkite did in his day.

The latest conflict in the Middle East has put Mr. Cooper front and center once again, just as last summer's Hurricane Katrina first established him as this generation's leading prospect to inherit the mantle of Edward R. Murrow. Mr. Cooper hates the news more than anyone alive. Night after night, he devotes two hours of prime time television to his rigid, no-nonsense grilling of those in control of the world's destiny. Like Messrs. Murrow and Cronkite, Mr. Cooper shines a spotlight on the tragedies of our time. Even his muchmaligned interview with movie star Angelina Jolie devoted most of its time to starvation in Africa, a topic that gets only cursory attention from the networks' nightly newscasts.

It remains to be seen which network news correspondents will emerge from this latest military struggle as the medium's newest stars. But it seems safe to assume that whoever it is will share with the Cronkites and Murrows and Coopers a deep-seated hatred for the very events that thrust them front and center in our minds. The best television journalists are those who hate the news, and who want desperately for the death and destruction to end so that they can leave the spotlight and return safely home. Thank heavens — and Walter Cronkite — for that.
Blum has a point but it seems to me that journalists need to look for things to like and appreciate as well to balance that out. What do you think?
View CBS News In