Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Megan's Online Personality Test, Part I

"Are the best journalists kind of, well, sociopaths?" (October 5th, 2007)

Megan, I'm pretty sure that Sy Hersh didn't spend his formative years wetting the bed, torturing cats and setting fires. That was Michael Gordon's thing.

I find it hard to say even the obvious things about people I've interviewed who are clearly odious media whores, self-destructive louts, or merely deeply silly.

Whereas saying odious, destructive and silly things about black folk comes naturally as breathing. Wasn't "Merely, Deeply, Silly" that movie with Alan Rickman as a dead bloke?

And the closer you get to people, the harder it gets . . .

...when they die in tragic accidents at the shooting range. No, uh, Megan, just how often do you get close to the people you've interviewed?

...which is why most journalists lean farther left the closer they get to on the ground reporting.

Whoops, must have inadvertently switched off my inertial damper, because my brain just flattened against the inside of my skull. Okay, let's walk this one through:

1: Journalists must remain objective and emotionally neutral when confronted with disagreeable human subjects.
2: Objectivity becomes diffficult to maintain when journalists become emotionally involved with their subjects.
3: Hippies.

This does not make them right, mind you; there is a tendency to ignore any costs to their policy prescriptions that are not personified right in front of them, which often means advocating policies that would make society in aggregate worse off. But it's certainly understandable.

Folks, raise your hands if you believe that it is a journalist's professional responsibility to offer policy prescriptions. Dammit, okay, anyone besides Michael Gordon?

I'd say another emerging problem in journalism is that journalists and the people they cover are becoming more and more concentrated in a few cities. And that means that they're all each other's friends. Which means that it's harder to say mean things about each other.

Megan, you're right, it's an intractable problem, and sociopathy the only reasonable response. You're probably despairing, "If only there were an online test capable of screening for useful personality disorders." Good news! There is such a test, and I'm taking it for you:

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