Ira Glass: Commentary is trouncing fact-based reporting because of its down-to-earth style
One reason WNYC's "Radiolab" is so distinctive, according to "This American Life" host Ira Glass, is the banter between hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. "Having two narrators lets them express amazement, underline what’s funny, manipulate the pacing, pause on a difficult idea and bring up opposing arguments in a very graceful way," Glass writes. (Another show that does this is NPR's "Planet Money," Glass writes.) This casual, approachable style, Glass writes, is one reason that "real journalism – and by that I mean fact-based reporting – is getting trounced by commentary and opinion in all its forms, from Fox News to the political blogs to Jon Stewart." He continues:

"One way we broadcast journalists can fight back and hold our audience is to sound like human beings on the air. Not know-it-all stiffs. One way the opinion guys kick our ass and appeal to an audience is that they talk like normal people, not like news robots speaking their stentorian news-speak. So I wish more broadcast journalism had such human narrators at its center. I think that would help fact-based journalism survive.

Related: ‘This American Life’ creator on what makes a good story | 'The atomic element is the story': This American Life navigates a future that goes beyond broadcast | Radiolab host Jad Abumrad named 2011 MacArthur fellow, along with Journalist Peter Hessler.

Correction: The original version of this post misidentified Peter Hessler as a New York Times journalist.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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