Judt, author of the standout history of postwar Europe and dozens of other fine commentaries and books, suffers from a fatal progressive disease, ALS, and has been writing his life’s memoir in short pieces in the NYRB. “Austerity” does not discuss journalism as such, but what he says about politics and entertainment could equally be applied to much modern journalism.
“The wealth of resources we apply to entertainment serves only to shield us form the poverty of the product; likewise in politics, where ceaseless chatter and grandiloquent rhectoric mask a yawning emptiness.” OK, much journalism is conducted with lesser resources (particularly time). But read the whole piece and you’ll see what I mean.
Do not be put off by the fact that his subject is moral seriousness, austerity and restraint. Judt is one of a few writers who can make these ideas live.