March 12, 2009 § Leave a comment
March 12, 2009 § Leave a comment
March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment
March 10, 2009 § 2 Comments
My point of leading with Ben McGrath’s New Yorker piece wasn’t to discredit his story. Pieces like that have their place in journalism, and that specific story is full of worth (it’s in the New Yorker, ’nuff said). I just thought it was a great example of the traditional print voice that is seeping online.
And the thing is I wouldn’t say that it’s “seeping online” because there’s no real problem with the internet being used as a means for distributing material, at least as long as the material is worthwhile (no point in copying and pasting crap, which is why it’s great that Dane Cook started online, so his bullshit wasn’t redundant on top of being bullshit) presented in a visually palatable manner and there’s a decent business model behind it. And unlike many other publications that use the internet to mirror their physical product, The New Yorker has a pretty good handle on it’s online presence.
First of all, the New Yorker does it right because they let their writers have blogs on site, such as Sasha Frere-Jones, whose blog is definitely worth the click it will take you to get there … once you’re done here. I promise there’s a funny clip at the end of this, but it will disappear if you just scroll down right now.
The New Yorker also offers the smaller pieces for free to entice the would be spenders, then putting a premium on the meatier works as well a crazy little thing called Design. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I don’t like the web design that most sites employ. The New Yorker’s standard web isn’t the big offender, that award goes to Rolling Stone and the combination of the teeny-teeeeeeny-teeeeeeeney-tiny (©Maddow) thin column of text and their insistence on splitting a piece displayed so think across four fucking pages, without a “one page” option that many including the NYTimes offer.
But how does The New Yorker manage to get it right? Well, what I’ll assume are well-padded coiffures were able to put as many net application designers in all of their open-space offices on the same task, and this resulted in The New Yorker’s Digital Reader. The simplest way to browse is click on the arrows on the sides of the layouts, and then, as you’ll see below, after you click on the page, you zoom in to read the page.
Works like Parker’s article, the creme de la creme, are kept “behind the curtain,” as The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates put it, in the premium content section of The New Yorker’s site. This is done for one very good reason: good work doesn’t come free. Sure we’ve hit a point where admitting you still pay for music illicits stares akin to suggesting you just sharted, but journalism is a key ingredient in a well functioning and self questioning society, and we should be paying for it, hand over fist. Buy those NYTimes’ or whichever local paper is worth your money, (and no The USA Today does not count) not just when Obama’s won an election as I now endorse buying the Times (not that this was always the way I rolled over the W. Bush years) on any day of the week.
A few weeks ago, TIME had a cover story about the ways to save the newspaper. The problem the industry is currently facing is the fact that internet ad revenue for the news site industry is down. This trend results in oddities like the ginormous screen-estate that the Apple ad on the front page of the NYT that you may see when you go online to check your digital news, a stunt done wherein a high end company promotes itself to an audience that is presumably able to afford the product. The problem, though, is that these sites are all free, so their customers have no proof they’d actually be able to afford the ginormous 17″ Macbook Pro.
With The New Yorker’s digital reader, only available to those who will pay for it or actually subscribe to the publication, the people at Chevron know their product hawking won’t fall on broke ears. Admittedly, it would be great if all news would be available for free, but money doesn’t grow on KFC Famous Bowls yet, so we’ll have to pay for quality for the time being. And I have to reiterate that I think that as hard as it’s been for the journalistic commuity to get a grip on the net world, I think the New Yorker has a good start.
The author of the above TIME article then went on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart admitted that he shares the same crippling addiction to newspapers that I boldly revealed in my lede yesterday. Here’s the clip:
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March 9, 2009 § 2 Comments
It might be a side-effect from growing up and treasuring the Sunday Times as manna from the heavens – or my years as a college newspaper writer – but I react the same way when I open up a newspaper (no, the Post doesn’t count, that’s a tabloid) that a junkie does when they get their hand on a dime-bag of cocaine. It’s a rush of blood to the heart. Watching the fifth season of The Wire wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because the newsroom is a growler full of kick ass for me. And for the most part, poseurs like Krauthammer and Kristol, Newspaper Men and Newspaper Women are a breed I’ll go to the mat for any day of the week.
My thanks to Collin for getting the gears turning again on a topic I’ve meant to get words out on. Box Score Beat is a damn good site, but I took issue with something he said, and thought a rebuttal was in the cards.
So I read his post, “New Journalism Demands a New Voice,” and got all animated in a rush because he seemed to be using Ben McGrath’s “Roid Warriors” article from the March 9th The New Yorker (which is about the investigations into the A-Roid story by The Daily News‘ sports investigatory team the I-Team) as a jumping off point about the failings in dumping the print writers onto the internet.
A friend pointed me to Ben McGrath’s recent article in The New Yorker titled “Roid Warriors” a few days ago. … I ran into the same friend the next day, and she asked me how I liked the piece. I replied that it was interesting enough, but I thought the writing was stereotypical print style and that it didn’t do much for me.
Where Collin sinks his teeth in is the proverbial red meat of the Sports Blogging Party: trite quasi-Lenoesque writing from old fartish hacks who never deserved their jobs when they wrote for print media anymore than they deserve their current jobs as online scribes. Here’s a quote that Colin found from Reilly:
Sure, times are rougher than Russian toilet paper. Your 401K is now a 101k. Donald Trump just laid off three blow-dryists. But because of it, you can see great sporting events for the price of a can of Spam Lite!
“RDRR,” Ricky, as the teacher at the sole private school in Springfield would say. But the problem with the piece was that the above quote was part of a longer ‘graf, and the only writing singled out as what you’ll see he refers to as “newspaperman writing,” despite the fact that the McGrath piece is where the story starts.
I’ll bold this ‘graf because I think it’s what we agree on. The above quote from Reilly doesn’t even deserve the place that it already has in print journalism, either. This is one of the flaws of large scale print journalism, to sell enough copies, publications have to cater to the lowest common denominator, as a result, the internet catered to the niche interests, and developed dedicated followings for those willing to lead.
Back to Reilly, though: any professor teaching journalism – print or online – would give that quote such a smattering of red ink you’d think the assignment was a Netflix envelope. Am I proud of that last line? Not entirely, but it gets the message across and it’s of substance, showing how drastically poor Reilly’s writing is, and somehow avoiding tried-and-abused never sacred heifers like Russian Poverty (not the best thing to be attacking in times of crisis), Donald Trump’s hair, and Spam, which Monty Python have had a humor copyright on for decades.
So how did Collin build a bridge from a New Yorker piece he was nonplussed by to
Don’t get me wrong, the reporting in the piece was solid, and the point of the article was surely to make the I-Team’s story the focus. But I’ve realized in the last few months that, due mostly to the proliferation of blogs I read, I have come to not only enjoy but also to expect a voice and an opinion in sports articles.
That seems to be the big difference between the net and the printed page: people get to be their own columnist online. Generalization, sure, but I believe there’s warrant to it. What I’m finding troublesome, though, is when writers I would classify as “print writers” convert to the online world and bring their newspaperman voice with them.
What do I mean by newspaperman voice? The type of writing that makes you think of trench coats, typewriters, kitschy headlines, and newspaper bundles tied with twine. The type of writing that smells faintly of ink and printing presses. The type of writing that has become so standard it can be called a “type of writing.”
Rick Reilly’s a perfect example.
While I’ve come to love Deadspin, have met Leitch and love their style of writing, it’s not a whole meal. There’s a thing about Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner’s prose, for both the printed New York Times and the Bats blog that the NYT has Kepner writing for, that I actually find rather deserving of the ink and paper that is used in the printed version. He writes well, and he has a voice, but that doesn’t mean he has an opinion that comes through in any means other than the fact that you sense that he has a want for the team he covers to win, or at least give him stories worth a damn and more original than “Team Spends A Little Under The GDP of East Timor During Off Season To Try And Win The World Series.”
What I was trying to say is that we don’t always need columnists. Sometimes we need reporters. Actually, for the important stories, we really need reporters. We like columnists and the opinionated because we like to hear our ideas in someone else’s writing. The Times gets the difference between writing for the printed page and writing for the pixelated screen, as Kepner’s blog posts are musings and blips, appetizers compared to the lunches he serves up in ink and paper.
When I read that article from last week’s New Yorker, I realize that this is the kind of writing that keeps ink and paper companies in business(well, that and extremely pushy folks of the Schrute persuasion), because the printed publications, unlike most of the sports blogging world, can afford to send writers out to report, and find the reader more than they can find on their couch, you don’t see the following image in any MLB broadcast:
On a dry-erase board behind O’Keeffe’s head, Thompson had scrawled a quote from the newspaper baron Lord Northcliffe: “News is what somebody somewhere is trying to suppress. The rest is advertising.” There was an arrow connecting the word “somebody” to the name of the lawyer Rusty Hardin. His client Roger Clemens, the I-Team’s sources say, could be indicted for perjury sometime this spring.
This kind of stuff is why print still walks amongst the living, because it’s something that requires investigatory journalism, something that isn’t available to all bloggers, myself included, many of whom are unpaid and doing this to practice their own craft of writing in lieu of a paying gig, but most of us know that we’re not the standard.
What annoys me, and I don’t want to go Bissinger, but I’m worried about the future of the newspaper thanks to a dying attention span. Sure, the papers have a boatload of blame that they’re carrying on their fold, but they’re better than the alternative. I’ll hold onto the NYT, and I’ll be quite angry if it’s put out of business and those loud, boisterous hucksters at TMZ are still cranking shit out.
Good Journalism is what’s happening. It can happen in blogs, and does, but I’d rather have my name in ink than on screen nine times out of ten. This is why I’m going to try and write about a thousand words a night this week about where and why newspapers and magazines are chock full of FAIL and how I’d try and change the game up. Again, thanks to Collin for the inspiration.