Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Media Lost and Found

Alissa Quart--who I'm off to meet with this morning--has the cover story of the Columbia Journalism Review this month. (Go Q!) Do check out her piece, "Lost Media, Found Media: Snapshots from the Future of Writing." A chronic bridger, I think I might actually fall somewhere in between. Alissa interviewed a range of old (lost) and new (found) media types, including feministing's Jessica Valenti, of whom she writes the following:

The young found media types I spoke with tend to focus more on invention than destruction. They were, for the most part, unflaggingly upbeat. Jessica Valenti, for instance, the twenty-nine-year-old founder and editor in chief of the popular feminist blog Feministing, which aggregates news items ranging from feminist responses to the presidential campaign to condom manufacturers’ responses to a new study of young women and STDs. The news hits are all interspersed with tart, partisan, intelligent, and sometimes raw commentary and opinion. Whatever Feministing is—blog, think tank, digest, “women’s” pages, feminist magazine—it’s a fine example of the new media as an improvement over the old. Unlike the “Hers” sections of yore—women’s magazines, or even Ms. Magazine—Feministing is not shaped by the fear of being offensive or “unrelatable” for “the average female reader.” In this way, like some other feminist blogs, it is head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media. “I don’t see a lot of nostalgia from young feminists for the time when things were a lot worse,” said Valenti, who is tall with black Veronica bangs, and speaks a decibel or two louder than you do. “I studied journalism a bit but I didn’t find my voice until I had a completely open forum in the blogs.”

Like Valenti, my younger journalist friends and colleagues imagine a kaleidoscopic future where the hoarier codes of journalism are put to rest: goodbye inverted pyramid, hello a nearly reckless immediacy; goodbye measured commentary, hello pungent or radical or vulgar commentary. Yet beyond style, the new reality is that there is no clear, long-term career plan for Found Media-ites—or even for most of the rest of us. We’re in the sort of moment in history that some people will say they were glad to witness, but only twenty years hence.

Read the full article here.

1 comment:

Marjorie said...

Thanks for posting this link to the article. As a freelance journalist who has to currently depend on her husband's salary to support her writing habit, it's a bittersweet commentary on the low economic regard with which society currently places on good old-fashioned reporting.

It reminds me of an argument I had with a twenty-one-year-old intern from Ireland a couple of years ago. He essentially argued that copyright should be abolished altogether, that creative content should be free and accessible to all. (He was specifically referring to music, but of course it could just as easily apply to literature, photography, and other artistic "products.") As a creative person myself, I asked him how on earth he could expect these artists and writers to make a living if they couldn't do so from their work. He very blithely said, "Well, they can find other jobs." It dawned on me that he had no idea how much physical, emotional and financial investment goes into creating art, that he had never read Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own," that he -- like many others -- doesn't understand that if one is to continue to enjoy art, one must support the artists who create them.

I'm thinking now of a project I'm ruminating in my head about a long-form story I hope to publish in the local paper about immigrant communities in the wake of the failure of comprehensive immigration reform. I hope it will spark serious conversations about the future of our community and the role that immigration can play in saving the economy and society.

I will be paid almost nothing for it, of course. That's a given.