Nate Thayer, The Atlantic and the future
Over the past several days the nonfiction world has been in an uproar over The Atlantic, one of the largest and most succesful media operations out there, attempting to get Nate Thayer, a respected journalist, to contribute a piece for free, or rather for “exposure.” Thayer’s response was a great big “Fuck you” and I love him for that. As I keep saying, you cannot...
WTF is Buzzfeed?
Beginning around the end of last month, when the “2012’s best” lists started coming out, one of them mentioned everywhere was Buzzfeed, which also just secured millions of dollars more in start-up funding. I had never heard of Buzzfeed before. Not from Poynter, Romenesko, UMass Journalism, Nieman, HuffPo, The Daily Caller, The Atlantic or any other website or organization I read...
I really really really really really really hate telecommuting. Isolation is desolation and it is not splendid. I am starved for human contact on a daily basis. It’s as bad as it was in Rutland, but at least I’m not swamped by despair anymore. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why people want to work from home. DEAR GOD, WHY DOES MY LIFE SUCK SO MUCH?
Last night I lost almost $20 playing Texas Hold ‘Em. It was a friendly game and I had fun, but it epitomized my experience of Boston: some good times, but all at a net loss. Since coming here, whatever triumphs of reporting or writing have quickly given way to the reality that I’m still making absolutely fuck all, that I have had no success as a freelance writer — I can barely...
Thoughts from Hurricane Sandy
Having gone on for some time now about unbundling content and an iTunes-type model for journalism, Sandy’s unbridled fury that has, as my roommate put it, ended Western Civilization, also provided me with a good thought experiment. It is very important for any possible business model to be able to cope with emergencies and other forms of breaking news. One reason that photographers,...
Trying to put it together
The Nieman Journalism Lab’s Week in Review from a few weeks ago had a very interesting bit about how British journalist David Leigh proposed that newspapers be subsidized with a tax on broadband. Writers at Nieman and other observers rightly shot down the idea as dangerous to editorial independence and Mark Coddington, who put together the week in review, quoted a post by Charlie Beckett at...
Boston, you sexy beast
I can’t say I’m more prosperous than I was in Rutland, but living in a city allows for a lot of interactions and observations you don’t get in a town and these interactions can mean lots more ideas. This is, in fact, more or less the point of the city. One of the observations I’ve had in Boston is that just about everyone has a Kindle, tablet or smartphone that they use...
Journalists can learn lots from musicians
“We’re going to continue doing it. We’re also going to continue all the contests, giveaways, pop-up shops, random mail orders, subscription services and manufacturing of insane new vinyl products and any other ridiculous idea that strikes our fancy. Why? Because we’re American. And Americans do crazy shit for capitalism. See you in hell.” — Third Man Records GM...
Bands of bundles
My friend Pete Storey published his first book the other day, a collection of short stories entitled Human Nature. It’s really good — as an author, actor, adventurer and secret agent (probably), I wouldn’t be surprised to see him write, direct and star in his own biopic one day. You should go and buy it right now. Back? Good. Anyways, he published it on Amazon for the Kindle and...
The Problems of Journalism
Basically, the problems of journalism boil down to one: utilty. People are willing to pay for information that’s useful to them. This is why The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and Reuters are still profitable and other media orgs are going through reorganization, restructuring or out of business. If journalists published more relevant news, the other challenges would be easy....
The Stages of Grief
I love print media. I think it’s genetic because I am descended from a long line of serious bibliophiles (I believe we have a 17th century bible somewhere) and if there’s one commodity Robares always need it’s shelf space (God, how I love my Kindle). There’s a used bookstore in my hometown of Rutland, Vermont called Annie’s Bookstop and they’re going out of...
A Lot of Little Ideas
I sincerely doubt that the salvation of my profession will be an underpaid journalist traveling by bus or train to cover a story and having a eureka moment to become the salvation of the industry. Or, if it does happen, I’d like that journalist to be me. Similarly, I doubt that the the eureka moment of journalism is going to come from a professor musing in the pages of AJR or CJR. Or from a...
Still twisted, still raving
A lot has happened since the last time I blogged anything. Firstly, I got a job as a stringer Saugus, Massachusetts for a weekly paper called The Saugus Advocate. I did my first reporting since late April of 2011 in early February and it was awesome. Secondly, I moved from Rutland, Vermont to Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. So now this will be more like the twisted ravings of an...
Putting my money where my typing is
I’ve previously complained about the costs and challenges of starting an enterprise and about how I hate not doing any journalism and how much I loathe being stuck in my hometown of Rutland, Vt. Well, after a particularly uninspiring week of dreary, non-paying, non-journalism jobs, I decided to take the bull by the horns: I’m starting a hyperlocal journalism website. I’ll add...
You can't eat internships even if you can eat...
For every actual journalism job posted to job boards — i.e. a job that involves reporting news according to the best available information as opposed to public relations or marketing — maybe four are unpaid. Two of those are undergraduate internships and two of them are “new media organizations” like The Huffington Post that want cheap content. The unpaid internship is...
Location, location, location
I’m in my seventh month of unemployment in my hometown of Rutland, Vermont (town motto: We’re not a ghost town yet, it just feels and looks that way; state motto: Proudly hosting retired New York leftists with adult children who don’t give a flying fuck about the natives’ futures since 1970) and if I wasn’t crazy when I got here I am now. When I graduated, I was...
'Fear and Loathing' in Puerto Rico
The Rum Diary, directed by Bruce Robinson and starring Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart, is the third movie to be adapted from a book by Hunter S. Thompson and after seeing what the Hollywood crack-whores did with this, it’s not damn surprising that they waited until he was dead and buried six years to rape his worm-eaten corpse. I kid, of course, but writing about Thompson always makes me want...
The Washington Post has it right
As the year has gone on I’ve come to like The Washington Post more and more. I think they’re doing the best job at responding to market signals and more importantly, anticipating what people want. Where The New York Times and The Boston Globe websites went behind paywalls this year, The Post is leaving its website free as a bird. They’re also embracing social media better than...
The Experience Bar
One number has come up more than any other in my job search: five. Specifically, almost every job I’ve come across requires applicants to have at least five years of experience. Some of them restrict it even further to five years of professional experience. Some of the papers that cover Congress even want only people who have at least five years of experience covering Congress. ...
Beyond the Pale
Another journalism conference, ONA 11, was held this past week in Boston and I was once again treated to the spectacle of people talking about entrepreneurship and not addressing how to pay for it. We libertarians have a saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” — it doesn’t matter that two roommates started a company in their dorm room their junior year of...
All news is local
“All politics is local,” Boston Democrat and House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, emphasizing the importance to politicians of bringing lofty policies down to the immediate focus of the voter. That’s just as true in news and it’s something I rarely see in the new media. It’s one thing when Groupon promotes local deals, but where are the Sunday ads online?...
Enough of propriety
Internet security, or rather the lack thereof, is back in the news this week. Google’s popular Gmail service was attacked, according to PC World, raising concerns about Google’s security. Regular readers of Cracked.com or XKCD know that internet security is largely illusory, depending on good habits instead of automatically updating anti-virus software. The technical reasons this is...
How the more social media you’re plugged into, the more alone you feel when you’re lonely. As though all the distance seperating you from followers/friends was suddenly palpable. Or perhaps it’s like being a pebble in a stream — you can be part of the current or you be tossed around it and flung willy-nilly.
My local paper, The Rutland Herald, has an amusing problem. They keep trying to cover the Red Sox and other New England teams by using the Associated Press wire service, but they only work until 4, so none of the games are ever finished when they go to press. It makes me wonder why they bother. People in the area interested in the Red Sox can get their news from watching NESN, ESPN, NECN and the...
What attracts more business, an expensive ad campaign or a good write-up in the local newspaper? Smart advertisers know that the answer is actually word-of-mouth, which is why some businesses try to reward recommendations and the best commercials are the ones you want to tell your friends about. But I’ll bet that businesses that are featured in a news story do better than those that...
Newspapers and networks
At the risk of becomming an old fogey before my time by blathering on about social networking, I do think it’s signifigant. I’m almost constantly on Facebook or Twitter, as are most of my friends. However, I find that the majority of people keep Facebook open while they do other things because they’re waiting for updates. In a very roundabout way this will get me to where I want...
Bigness isn't all there is to ideas
In The Elusive Big Idea, Neal Gabler writes in The New York Times that “We prefer knowing to thinking because it has more immediate value … Ideas are too airy, too impractical, too much work for too little reward.” Elsewhere he criticisizes modern technology: ” … social networking sites are the primary form of communication among young people, and they are...
The Great Divide
A professor I had at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and whom I follow on Twitter, Steve Fox, is currently at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference 2011, so I’ve been following his Tweets and gaining a bit of an insight into what educators think about the future of journalism. The more Tweets, blog posts and whatnot I read about the...