In its desperation, journalism has dusted off Renaissance values. Students are told that to earn their keep they’ll need to know how to do everything. Prepare yourselves to create content, they’re told: to create it fast and on every imaginable platform—the ones we have and the ones we might have in 20 years. And in your spare time, light up the sky with an unending burst of brilliant ideas on how to reinvent the business.
It’s a preposterous job description. But the other day I realized I actually know someone like that: my old writing partner.
I certainly don’t fit the bill. If I were playing Wheel of Fortune I wouldn’t recognize the future if the only letters missing were the e‘s. I remember the time in the late 70s when the editorial staffs of the Sun-Times, where I worked, and its then sister Daily News were called into a rare joint meeting, and the editorial director for the two papers announced in tones of highest urgency that the company would be spending a couple million dollars to computerize the newsrooms.