Actually, on that note, we’re going to be having our own panel.
My Testicles Cost Nothing But The Love They Demand: Sussing Out The Business Models Changing Things Like Whatever Journalism Means, Now. With Dumplings, too!
We’ll assemble New York media’s best and brightest, bring them to you with dumplings, cigarettes, and a bag of KB, and tell you exactly what you want to hear. For free. All you have to do is look at this Mentos ad.
The asshole who pays to go to a panel about the future of free content absolutely deserves to be hosed for the $75 they’re going to get nailed with. Then again, they’re probably already AvantGuild subscribers, so: $65. That being said, I will definitely head down there to try to win tickets. I’d love to have it out with somma these punks.
We’re throwing a flacks ‘n’ hacks party on Tuesday, July 13, at Arctica Bar & Grill. It’s our way of uniting PR people and writers in the service of their true love: drinking. (You thought I was going to say journalism?)
But don’t get too friendly, because we’re going to be having a Guitar Hero competition between Team Flack and the Team Hack. The winners from each side get a pair of tickets to the Finding a Business Model for News and Online Media Panel on July 16 with Jay Rosen, Rachel Sklar, and other media visionaries.
Our Mediabistro editorial hosts will be happy to introduce you around. Keep an eye out for editorial director of content Chris Ariens, FishbowlNY editor Amanda Ernst, and PRNewser editors Joe Ciarallo and Jason Chupick.
You can almost sense Armstrong (who sings in a ludicrous fake English accent I’m sure the wee American idiot lassies just love to bits) sitting bored as hell at the laptop on this album with a lyrical to-do list: “Anger, check. Angst, check. Anarchy, check. Self-mutilation and self-hatred, check. Sodomizing dogs, check. Depression, check. Few expletives here and there to keep things slightly edgy and piss off the parents, check. Some vaguely contentious unfocused diluted statements about the evils of organized religion and government, check. Covert reference to GG Allin that practically nobody will get, check. Smiths album title reference – they’ll think I’m sensitive – check. Stuff about blowing shit up with gasoline, check. Societal collapse, check. Broken hearts, check. Doomed teen love, check.” And if you think I’m being cynical about this, well, I’m sure as Hell not being as cynical as the man who actually wrote this sub-teen sniveling drivel, trust me. And why would I even care about this stuff? After all, I’m 39, hardly the target audience for this corporate triumph of the swill. Well, I grew up on American punk music, and have always been a lover of good lyrics. Armstrong clearly and ludicrously thinks he’s some sort of wordsmith: “I am a sonofabitch and Edgar Allan Poe,” as he put it on ‘American Idiot,’ so he gets graded more harshly. Plus one of my all-time fave bands for many years were Dead Kennedys, who had political lyrics that actually meant something, addressing subjects outside of depressed melancholic navel-gazing in lyrically and musically scorching fashion. Judging Green Day against that sort of standard, I have to find the pop-punk skunk-stinkers laughably inept and boring and stupid and pathetic. The sheepherd-mentality unthinking approval ratings Billy Bob gets for this shite nauseates me, because this album and its predecessor just represent everything wrong with contemporary tempo music to me: no emotion, no interest in topics sort-of presented, bombastic amped-up production to detract from the unoriginality of the musical and lyrical material on display…and on and on and on. It’s all just too familiar (OK, there may be no such thing as new music anymore, but at least fucking try, you know?) and uninteresting and pedestrian – basically everything punk originally reacted against in the late 70s. Listen to the album if you can be bothered and tell me if I’m wrong.
The Singing Sassmaster - Cap’n Kirk. Or Cap’n Pike when he broke his leg and played in a wheelchair. We spray-painted a box black and stuck it over him. He sat there looking vacant flashing his lights. We had to pour beer into him. I love being in this band. Cap’n James Tequila Kirk.
Can you name an art form that millions practice, but is widely believed to be difficult, boring and on its last legs? That’s right: poetry. Pundits have been writing its obituary for decades — “Poetry is dead. Does anybody really care?” askedNewsweek snarkily in May. (Well, at least they waited till April, National Poetry Month, was over.) But obviously, there is something unkillable about poetry, because people keep writing it — in the privacy of their bedrooms after a long day of work and children, in writing groups, creative writing classes and MFA programs, in workshops at libraries and Ys and youth centers and senior centers and afterschool programs and even prisons.
My father, a lawyer, wrote poems occasionally; and so did his mother, my grandmother, also a lawyer. They wrote poetry the way I play the piano — for the pleasure of it: to fix a moment in time, to express a striking thought, to relieve strong feeling, to mark an event. And they’re not so unusual. When I taught a poetry workshop at the 92nd St Y in Manhattan, around the big table sat schoolteachers, stay-at-home mothers, magazine editors and lawyers (something about that profession!) as well as a nanny, a professor of Spanish, a would-be country musician and Paolo, the dashing Italian oncologist. Some were beginners; others had been writing for years. One or two already had MFAs. All these people would vigorously reject the notion that the art they loved was dead.
Can you trace your history back to an event that sent you down that path?
I know exactly when it was. I was nine. I had an abusive mother, and one night she woke us up—me and my brother Kent—like, two in the morning and made us go to the laundromat to go wash clothes, so we got up. They used to have an old homeless guy or a wino to watch the Laundromat so no one would break no machines, and when me and my brother were putting our clothes in the dryer, three guys came in and they asked the guy that was watching the machines for fifteen cents to catch the bus. And the guy got indignant, cussed them all, “Fifteen cents? I got fifteen cents and a handful of change but I wouldn’t give you the sweat off my balls. You faggot motherfuckers, I’ll give you fifteen cents to get out of my face.”
Next thing you know the change went up in the air and they beat him literally to death. So me and my brother, we standing back there – my concern is my little brother. The back door is locked, it’s got a padlock on it so we can’t go out that way but we want to get up out of there but we can’t without passing them. So we had to sit there, stand there and wait until they finished beating on this guy. They looked up and seen us there, me and my brother, and they start walking toward us. I push my brother behind me, and they said, “Loan me fifteen cents.” I said, “I ain’t got no money, this is my mother’s money,” and back in the day people respected, they don’t mess with mamas so they knew I couldn’t give them no money. Then they said, “But if you had ten cents you’d give it to me, right?” and I said “Sure.”
So they left, then me and my brother, we left the clothes but we climbed over the washing machines because the guy’s laying in the middle of the floor in a pool of blood. I mean, a POOL of blood. We got to the door and I got my brother out then all of a sudden the guy let out a big fart and took his last breath. I stopped and looked at him, and right by his head was a dime and a nickel. I made up my mind that I would never be a victim; I would never be the prey. I’d be the hunter. If you going to be mean you gotta be the baddest motherfucker on the street.
The Internet is a tricky topic, and one Ms. Christensen must be commended for confronting. Many authors elide its existence out of what seems defensive self-interest, timidly deferring to the tyranny of the transitive property: If writing emails and checking blogs are frivolous activities, then novels containing descriptions of these activities are themselves frivolous, and therefore writers of literary fiction ought to avoid such descriptions. But novelists, for whom no subject ought to be too base or banal, make the familiar world unfamiliar, asking us to think about what we do thoughtlessly. To send Josie to the Internet cafe, then, is a courageous move, and a necessary one: Novelists, if their ambition is realism, must engage with the endless, invisible world that floats aside our own.
INITIALLY, Ms. Christensen’s analysis of this world intrigues. “She has power,” Raquel says of a character named Mina Boriqua, who seems modeled after the gossip blogger Perez Hilton. “Whatever she writes, millions of people read. She serves us up to them, and they eat us like nothing, like we’re potato chips.” In changing how we speak about other human beings, the Internet has altered our ability to comprehend their very humanity, at once celebrating subjectivity—no thought is too tiny to be tweeted—and denying it. Famous people become personas: There is you, the human being, and there is you, the character created and crucified by commenters. You are not simply who we say you are, you are a who only because we say you are.
Raquel’s celebrity allows Ms. Christensen to contrast the anonymous scorn of millions with private judgment. When Indrani discourages her divorce, Josie complains to Raquel, who calls Indrani a narcissist. Josie is pleased: “I was happy to hear Raquel bad-mouth Indrani, because for the first time, I agreed with her. Now that Indrani had judged me, I was free to judge her right back. The floodgates were open. She could be a bit of a narcissist, come to think of it.” Our imaginations, always restless, invent even the people we know, and fantasies, Ms. Christensen suggests, are always fueled by contact with others. Whether two or two million in size, the group dreams the world. Yet because someone answers us when we cry out, and confirms our complaint, we never know we are talking in our sleep, and that the people we judge are but shadows of our own making. Neither Perez Hilton nor Gawker’s Nick Denton invented the concept of passing judgment on other people; what they did was make a private pleasure profitable.
You could spend this summer working on your killer tan… or you could use the downtime to get heads up on the thousands of other grads competing for journalism jobs. Use this checklist to improve your journalism skills and set yourself apart from the pack:
1. Start a blog and post at least twice a week
2. If you already have a blog, write a post that gets retweeted 20 times
3. Shoot 100 amazing photos and post them on Flickr
4. Friend at least 50 journalists on Twitter who in turn follow you back
5. Become a part of a crowdsourcing project (start here)
6. Improve at least 5 Wikipedia entries
7. Create an audio slideshow using Soundslides
8. Shoot and edit a 3-minute video and post it to YouTube
9. Design a website from scratch using HTML and CSS
10. Create and maintain a Delicious account with at least 50 links that you find interesting
11. Create an online portfolio
12. Learn at least one other form of blogging (e.g. photoblogging, videoblogging, liveblogging)
13. Crop, resize, and color correct 50 photos using photo editing software
14. Start your own podcast
15. Create a profile on LinkedIn
16. Learn another computer language besides HTML (e.g. XML, PHP, MySQL)
17. Create an avatar and use it on all your social networking profiles
18. Learn how to create a basic slideshow in Flash
19. Subscribe to at least 25 non-journalism blogs using an RSS reader
20. Record, edit and embed a 3-minute piece of audio.
21. Interview 10 people using a handheld audio recorder
22. Interview 10 people using a video camera
23. Create a map mashup using a CSV file
24. Set your social network profiles to private or remove any incriminating evidence
25. Create a multimedia project that incorporates, video, audio, and text
26. Create a Flash project that uses ActionScript 3.0
27. Write a blog post that is Dugg at least 20 times
28. Join Wired Journalists
29. Attend a multimedia training workshop or take an online course
30. Remind yourself why you want to be a journalist [Ed. then kick yourself]
For the record, my little sister occasionally writes for G-of-a-G, and is not under some sort of slave labor contract. So, go away Foster Kamer. And tell Gawker to hire some female writers before spitting out criticisms at other sites. Thanks.
Fuckin’ Something. (Though she does say Jezebel is “the best site on the Internet” and you can’t really argue with that, right?)
Find seven things worth retweeting in your general feed and share.
Reply to at least five things with full responses (not just “thanks”).
Point out a few people that you admire. It shows your mindset, too.
Follow back at least 10 folks. (I use an automated tool, but this is a personal preference. If you want such, I use SocialToo.)
10 minutes of just polite two-way chit chat goes far.
Check in on birthdays on the home page. (Want a secret? Send the birthday wish via Twitter or email. Feels even more deliberate.)
Respond to any comments on your wall.
Post a status message daily, something engaging or interesting.
Comment on at least seven people’s status messages or updates.
Share at least 3 interesting updates that you find.
If you belong to groups or fan pages, leave a new comment or two.
Accept any invitations that make sense for you to accept.
Enter any recent business cards to invite them to LinkedIn (if you’re growing your network).
Drop into Q&A and see if you can volunteer 2-3 answers.
Provide 1 recommendation every few days for people you can honestly and fully recommend.
Add any relevant slide decks to the Slideshare app there, or books to the Amazon bookshelf.
Visit your blog’s comments section and comment back on at least 5 replies.
If you have a few extra minutes, click through to the blogs of the commenters, and read a post or two and comment back.
While on those sites, use a tool like StumbleUpon and promote their good work.
Write the occasional post promoting the good work of a blog in your community.
It’s Not Easy
Maintaining your online presence takes time. If you look at all I’ve listed above, that’s easily more than an hour of work. But it depends what the value of that presence is to you, if you’re doing this as an individual, or to your organization, if you’re doing this on behalf of a brand or product.
We’ve traded dollars for time, in lots of these equations, as we see the return on our advertising spend diminish. It’s your choice whether you want to maintain an active online presence, or if you want to get away with a bit less.
As this blog noted earlier, squabbling has broken out among some Bernie Madoff victims about how the small amount of stolen money that’s been recovered by the government should be disbursed. But this morning in the gallery of Judge Denny Chin’s Manhattan courtroom, there was a chummier, almost giddy, vibe in the air. My pewmates included Carol Baer, an Upper West Side café owner whose 100-year-old mother knew Ruth Madoff’s parents from a Catskills bungalow colony called Sunny Oaks (the family that owned Sunny Oaks, like the Baers, lost everything to Bernie, she said); George Nierenberg, a self-described “award-winning documentary filmmaker” who had annoyed Chin back at Madoff’s plea hearing in March by imploring Madoff to turn around and face his victims; Robert Neuwirth, a retired lawyer with a jolly air who just came to watch; and a man in a hooded sweatshirt who was absorbed in a book called Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought, and would reveal only that he was from Latvia.
One wishes that the fourth estate would evince as much ethical handwringing over the question of whether disclosing the photos of detainee abuses is worth putting our soldiers in harm’s way as it has over the question of whether the New York Times was right to keep the lid on the kidnapping of David Rohde. But, as they say, you can’t really compare the two, because, you know, Bush.
"….The distinction between blogger and “real” journalist has been boring for a while now - things are changing, HuffPo is a huge news site, and anyhow the “blogger at the briefing” barrier was broken ages ago by Garrett Graff in freaking March 2005. (Also, to the best of my knowledge, neither have appeared in any gay porn. Point, bloggers!).”
What’s wrong with gay porn? Nothing! Because it’s still Monday morning, it’s too early to find the joke about gay porn having exponentially fewer conflicts of interest than Abrams Research - some hetero thing about “crossing swords” or “swapping spit,” heh - but we just needed to point out that it was there for the taking.
One of your editorial staff members asked Nico Pitney to engage in a discussion of how editorial decisions are made in terms of selecting and placing entries and his answer was: “We just put things up. That’s it.” Nico is correct, of course. It’s the best sum-up I’ve heard to date of what the real editorial process is at HuffPost.
The front page brims with salacious, quick-and-dirty, superficial, and sensationalist content often presented in an illogical kaleidoscopic manner.
— Make no mistake: Pitney is not some blogger worth lionizing. He’s the kind of guy who talks about “search engine optimization” instead of content. Pitney is hostile to the idea of actual reporting. He’s part of the sleaziest style of blogging. He and his team of DNC hack-kids who Arianna pays to be “web producers” were always at odds with actual reporters during the election. At one point his team insisted that there wasn’t “enough room” for bylines!
—He was a low-level political operative and Democratic Party blogger who is spoon-fed stories from the DNC. Some people are calling what happened at the press conference collusion. The ethics of it are certainly lax. But you don’t send a DNC cheerleader like Pitney to confront the President if you’re looking for creditability. If we’re going to reinvent the way news is covered shouldn’t the ethical standards of New Media be higher instead of lower? But that’s not people like Pitney or Huffington are after. They’re after pageviews.
— According to buddies over at Huffpo — WHO QUIT— Pitney was disrespectful to the point of being abusive to those were not part of his small clique. And according to to one former staffer, “he seems to lack any ethical compass and shows no hesitation in bullying and threatening those who work around and under him.”
— Nico was fond of sending out pointless self-congratulatory notes on the editorial list serve: “we got picked up here or there”. The Huffington Post shouldn’t aim to be picked up by the NYTimes or MSNBC. The Huffpost should aim to replace the Times and MSNBC. Your success is NOT validated by mentions in the MSM. It’s be beating the MSM.
It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white. Or gay or straight. What matters is that you’re single, and the happy couples of the Weddings and Celebrations section of the Sunday NYT aren’t. Professional P.Y.T. Phyllis Nefler’s on the case… Yet again, Katie has absolutely slayed it. I spend all weekend trying to write this well, goddamnit. Please, go, give her some love.
I know how the internet “works” and all that, and god knows I steal things all the damn time, but really? Reprinting the entire forward to a book without any, like, citation at all? The book is long out of print I guess. Information wants to be free, and famously reclusive authors want it to look like they contributed to blogs they probably have never heard of because I am pretty sure they live in a cabin somewhere without internet access!