Archive for July 2009
I am a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club. The book and the film struck a nerve – and not just in me. In the tangled identity of the story’s unnamed protagonist and his partner Tyler Durden a generation saw a bit of itself. Google Tyler Durden’s name, or search Fight Club on YouTube, and you’ll see a range of remixes and responses. The story, and especially the dialogue of the main character, has become a cultural meme and metaphor. (Here is one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbMa4MGFCOg)
I stumbled upon one of these creative reuses recently. Playing off of one of the key monologues in the film (see video above) the author of this blog post uses actual quotes from Tyler Durden as guidelines for innovation and creativity.
I am going to shamelessly repurpose those same quotes from the book here, and apply them to something which is about as foreign to the story line as possible: Parenthood.
Here, then, are Tyler Durden’s 8 Rules of Parenthood: Read the rest of this entry »
One of the first magazines I ever subscribed to was Harpers. Each month, when the magazine showed up in my mailbox, I eagerly flipped to the “Harper’s Index,” where the editors listed arcane, odd and ordinary facts to surprise, unsettle or alarm the reader.
This week, the magazine Mother Jones published a similar index on the state of journalism. In “Black and White and Dead All Over,” Senior Editor Dave Gilson provides a long list of troubling journalism statistics. Here is a quick sampling: Read the rest of this entry »
Though Clay Shirky is known for his biting criticism and precise analysis of the media landscape, I find that the most interesting things in Shirky’s articles tend not to have anything to do with newspapers at all.
The mechanics of social change and upheaval, the arc of intellectual history, the functioning of public space and community identity, the dynamics of networks and the interplay of power. The core of his articles tend to strike a chord much deeper that mere commentary about the crisis in journalism. While the lessons he draws from these musings are often useful and illuminating for the case of newspapers – they apply more broadly to fundamental issues regarding how we communicate, relate, and engage with others.
Here are some of the nuggets that I have been mulling over recently. If these quotes pique your curiosity, go read the whole posts for each. Read the rest of this entry »
Free Press created SaveTheNews.org to argue for the importance of public policy in discussions about the future of journalism. Last week, however, policy took center stage with three articles examining our government’s possible role in fostering a robust and diverse free press in America. The articles came from an array of sources – a scholar, a journalist and a pair of advocates – and appeared in newspapers across the country, from Washington, D.C., to Seattle. Read the rest of this entry »
This morning, Politico reported that the Washington Post was offering lobbyists “off-the-record, non-confrontational” access to the paper’s own reporters and editors for a whopping fee of $25,000 to $250,000.
According to Politico, a promotional flyer for the first “Washington Post Salon,” focusing on health care, promised lobbyists an “exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done.” In addition to access to reporters and editors, the paper promised to hand-deliver Obama administration officials and members of Congress to any lobbyist willing to pay for access.
But within moments after news of the promotion hit social networks and blogs, the Post cancelled the plan. “This should never have happened,” Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Post, said in an article on the paper’s site. “The fliers got out and weren’t vetted. They didn’t represent at all what we were attempting to do. We’re not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom.”
The crisis in journalism has sparked unparalleled experimentation and innovation from new and old newsrooms alike. But this kind of “pay-for- access” model should be a non-starter in newsrooms, and it’s good to see leadership at the Post acting swiftly to shut down the ill-advised scheme. Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago Newsweek launched a new format – involving a redesign of the magazine’s layout and content. The editor, Jon Meacham, wrote what I thought was a fantastic explaination of the changes they had made to improve to magazine and adapt to this challenging time in American journalism (http://bit.ly/Qb5lm). He outlined the goals of the new publication, he talked about what they had to cut to account for their new focus, he made clear what they were and were not hoping to acieve. Here is a sample: “There will, for the most part, be two kinds of stories in the new NEWSWEEK. The first is the reported narrative—a piece, grounded in original observation and freshly discovered fact, that illuminates the important and the interesting. The second is the argued essay—a piece, grounded in reason and supported by evidence, that makes the case for something.”
Overall I was impressed – it’s rare that a mainstream media entitity like Newsweek makes these sorts of decisions, and rarer still that they decide to invest in journalism and quality reporting. Meacham seemed grounded in the facts of our time, aware of the challenges he was facing, and his essay seemed to refelct a real commitment to putting the news back in Newsweek. I finished reading his piece and thought about getting online and subscribing.
Then I turned the page. Read the rest of this entry »