I had my first byline in the Globe and Mail the other week: an interview about steady-state economics.
Category Archives: Media
Maisonneuve landed ten National Magazine Award nominations yesterday. (Technically, we got eleven, although for some reason the final tally doesn’t include the nods for Best Student Writer.) All the nominations are for work that happened before I started at the magazine, and there are about a billion noms in all, but it’s still pretty good. Especially when you look at the other mags in the top ten: the rest are either heavy hitters (the Walrus, L’actualité, Toronto Life, Maclean’s, Report on Business) or lifestyle publications (explore, Chatelaine, Cottage Life, enRoute). Plus, Maisonneuve is the only quarterly in the top ten. Everyone pretends not to care about these things, but, you know, recognition is encouraging.
Best Single Issue
Derek Webster and Anna Minzhulina
Best Student Writer
“Iraq’s Walking Dead”
“My Life in Dépanneurs”
“Iraq’s Walking Dead”
Science, Technology & the Environment
“The Green Gospel”
Sports & Recreation
“The Old One-Two”
Photojournalism & Photo Essay
“Serbia, the Sad South”
“Serbia, the Sad South”
“The Dep Guy”
So I’m two years behind the times on this one, but for those of you who have never read “Pat Dollard’s War on Hollywood,” do so now, please. I am currently reading The Best American Magazine Writing 2008, and “Pat Dollard” is a standout. The writing is utilitarian and clear, but it’s a compelling portrait of a scary human being. It’s very long, and very worth it. To entice you to read, I present the following titillating tidbits:
Hours of tape Dollard has shown me but not yet made public reveal an embedded reporter running out of control. In one sequence, filmed at a checkpoint where Marines are stopping civilian cars, Dollard himself cuts in front of the Marines to accost the driver. He leans in the window and shouts, “You got any bombs, dickface? Any booms? Any women?”
Dollard backs away, laughing, then shouts to nearby Marines. “Will you fucking kill something while I am here?”
Dollard enters the frame, totally nude, a decrepit satyr. A montage ensues of him performing various sex acts with her, intercut with close-ups of the girl smoking a glass pipe. There is unintended comedy: while Dollard is having sex with her on the couch, it catches fire, and the two fail to notice until flames engulf their feet. There is intended comedy: Dollard performs anal sex with her while simultaneously talking on the phone with an agent at William Morris.
The next day I visit. He greets me at the door drinking root beer and ice cream from an enormous bowl.
The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss has a good post that simultaneously shrugs off the whining about the decline of the traditional news media and dismisses the much-vaunted iTunes solution. Kiss points out that publishers still largely control media content, unlike record labels at the height of the file-sharing age, among a host of other problems with assuming some similarity between the two situations. New models for journalism won’t look anything like iTunes, Kiss speculates. Instead, they’ll look like souped-up versions of the online media already out there.
There’s another problem, I think, with comparing file-sharing to accessing print media online. Content isn’t just under the control of publishers; it’s (mostly) offered for free online by those very publishers, on sanctioned websites, with no uncertainty or risk. Part of what makes iTunes attractive (I assume – I’ve never bought anything through it) is that it’s a virus-free alternative to torrenting or file-sharing, and the quality of the file is guaranteed. But it’s not like anyone worries that some article is going to turn out to be a virus or a garbled bootleg.
2:05 pm EDT | Toronto | Drew Nelles reporting: On December 8th, the day MediaScout announced it would soon go on an indefinite hiatus, two other things happened. The administrators of the Pulitzer Prizes announced that they would start accepting entries from online-only news outlets. Also, the Tribune Company – publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, among other newspapers – filed for bankruptcy.
These three events vary in scale, but what they hold in common is obvious. As Jon Stewart recently joked, “What’s black and white and completely over?” Media are on the move. We should not be nostalgic for some era of glorious print muckraking that never really existed; newspapers have been narrow ideological tools and rapacious advertising vessels as often has they have exposed injustice and challenged power.
But we should also be realistic. The internet is not a panacea. Globally speaking, online access remains a limited privilege. Yesterday’s news conglomerates now own leading web publications. Independent media are wonderful, but lack resources. Blogs are, uh, blogs – diffuse and democratic, yes, but also the publishing platform of choice for party hacks, cowards, and the batshit insane. And in any case, the imminent death of the printed page has likely been exaggerated.
MediaScout occupied both of these worlds, the dodgy past and the hazy future. We aimed to explain how and why different outlets covered the news differently. Like the media sources we critiqued, we weren’t always successful. But when MediaScout worked, it was the potential of the internet on display. Lightning-fast summary and analysis. Instant context. Exploding the myth of an unbiased media. MediaScout would have been impossible in an earlier era, but the web allowed it to thrive.
Like many online upstarts, though, MediaScout fell victim to a lack of funding. This will be online media’s greatest challenge, as no funding source seems ideal: neither the insatiability of CEOs and advertisers, nor the fickleness of subscribers and donators. MediaScout’s obstacles were also those of publishing and the internet at large, obstacles that will not go away. Maybe we will be back. More likely, we won’t. In today’s climate – media, economic, whatever – that uncertainty is fitting.
From the MS-Canada Blog:
8:38 pm EDT | Montreal | Drew Nelles reporting: The public editor’s column in today’s New York Times is, unsurprisingly, about the paper’s coverage of the current US presidential election. And it’s not a positive assessment. Public editor Clark Hoyt’s assistant determined that, since late August, only about 10 percent of the 270 election articles in the Times have been about the candidates’… Read more »
From the MS-Canada Blog:
4:45 pm EDT | Montreal | Drew Nelles reporting: It goes without saying that the New Yorker is better than Esquire. One represents the standard against which all other magazine writing is judged, rivaled only by, well, its rivals: Harper’s and the Atlantic. The other is a men’s publication well past its hugely influential heyday. So the marked difference in their endorsements for the US presidential… Read more »