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Felix Salmon: I Said ‘Masturbatory’, Not ‘Masturbation’

Same difference? On a freaky, spring Friday, it’s as good a question as any. It’s also the spark for one of today’s absolute must-reads.

JournalismFestLogoFrom the eighth annual International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy (April 30- May 4), the hosts tweeted that Fusion TV’s Felix Salmon had said, quote: “Breaking news is the most masturbating thing journalists do.” Salmon has followed with a minor correction (he said “masturbatory”, not “masturbating”) and a whole bunch of elaboration:

The full quote was captured by the FT’s John Burn-Murdoch: “Breaking news is the most masturbatory thing journalists do. The reader couldn’t give a flying f*ck who broke it.”

A bit of context, here… In the Q&A, I was asked about whether there was a problem with the fact that explanatory journalism doesn’t break news. In particular, I was asked about this quote, from James Ball, at The Guardian, writing about Vox and FiveThirtyEight:

‘Neither site truly aims to break news on the areas they cover, and therein lies a problem: Are readers meant to visit their favorite “regular” news sites, then hop by and see if the newcomers have anything to add (or debunk)? Neither FiveThirtyEight nor Vox has offered quite enough (yet) on any of their specialties to become the first stop.’

Salmon is right. Journalists emphasizing on Twitter their byline-part in some breaking news is like a stand-up comic delivering a joke aimed primarily at fellow comics standing at the back of the room. Take Salmon’s advice, please!

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