Today’s op-eds: irrelevant, hackneyed, out-of-date

It’s bad enough that daily comic strips like Doonesbury and Mallard Fillmore run two weeks behind the political times. Reading them is like watching the Daily Show on a malfunctioning Tivo, except that the jokes are even staler than the news. But Globe columnists like Jeff Jacoby turn irrelevance into an art form. A good week after the MoveOn “General Betray Us” debacle, Jacoby finally got his outrage machine cranking.

Another op-ed in today’s Globe took newspapers to task for trying to compete in the blogosphere: “Speeding up the metabolic rate of news consumption, and giving it the glib gloss of the blogosphere, will do nothing to solve [newspapers’] essential crisis. If anything, it will diminish the intellectual patience and empathy upon which honest brokers of news depend.” Steve Almond writes as if this were something new for newspapers. But today’s column by Jacoby demonstrates how kneejerk, regurgitated ideas have become standard fare on the op-ed pages.

Jacoby shows that ample turnaround time is not sufficient to ensure relevant reporting and deep analysis. The real problem is his prurient interest in the flash and noise of politics rather than the real substance. It’s maddening enough when Trudeau and Tinsley run gags that are both hackneyed and out-of-date. But as Jon Stewart would point out, the Globe, and its paid columnists, should do better than aim to match the aspirations of comedians.

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