Monday, March 31, 2008

The Daily Bogle

John Bogle is, as Inquirer reporter Harold Brubaker writes, "never one to mince words." The famously contrarian founder of Vanguard Group speaks at length here about the current financial situation. But this quote struck me as applicable in the newspaper business:

"When innovation plays too big a role ... it overwhelms .... stewardship and fiduciary duty. ... The modern mentality is the Adam Smithian way, that investors should just look after their own interests and the system will work."

I have often thought of copy editors as word accountants, the people who make sure that it all adds up in the same way an auditor does. Those who say copy editing no longer is needed because technological innovation has made it redundant are saying, in effect, that innovation holds all the keys; if people just look after what they want to do, it will all be fine. But the checks and balances exist for a reason.

OK, it's a reach, but here's a quote from Bogle that many of us in the newspaper field will have no trouble saluting:

"Wall Street subtracts value from our society."

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