This past week I finally saw Eric Alterman speak about his new book, Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama. I had attempted to see Alterman in January but the event was cancelled because of bad weather on the east coast. So this last Wednesday I finally gave him a piece of my mind. Not really. But, you see, Kabuki Democracy started off as an article for The Nation. I know this because when the other web intern left for Germany, I picked up where she left off in fact-checking this beheamouth of an article. Not only was the article inordinately long (roughly 30 pages and growing) it was also incredibly...what's the word? That's right. Annoying. And I'm sure Alterman knows this. In fact, I couldn't even finish the fact-checking in my last two weeks there and I had to pass it off to the next intern.
Anyway, I saw Alterman and told him I knew the article would turn into a book at the time. I also asked him what he thought younger journalists should do to improve the future media landscape. The Wall Street Journal, he reminded us, is doing 140 percent of work with only 30 to 40 percent of its original workforce.
I specifcally asked him what us young journalists were doing wrong (if anything). I realize his answer lended itself to the usual cop-out, but I asked him anyway to see if he'd say anything interesting like, "Young journalists don't know how to report worth a damn!" or "Back in my day, if we were wrong, we'd get docked two week's pay!" Instead, he said to find your niche—oh, and maybe I should look into marrying a rich guy from Microsoft. Here is his answer in totality. Thanks Eric!
Author Sarah Vowell recently visited Seattle's Town Hall to read from her latest book, Unfamiliar Fishes. Those unfamiliar with Vowell's work may know her from This American Life or as the voice of Violet from Pixar's The Incredibles or from her numerous appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It was with great admiration I came to hear her read and to ask her some questions about work as a writer who delves into history, as well as personal stories. Vowell's writing has brought to life some of history's most unknown quirks in an approach that Seattlites—and Republican fathers—can laugh at and find informative.
Here Vowell answers my question about how she compiles her research. Which, as you know, I'm knee-deep in right now. Maybe somebody can comment on how they organize their mountains of research. Excel sheets, index cards, hanging folders? I'm really curious. Note, I recommend listening with speakers. Not suprisingly, she answers with her trademark wit and sarcasm e.g. "I use paper." I'll try and get a better transcript out later.
My latest for the Reno News & Review looks briefly into the raw food diet and how it's helping Reno locals reach their true nutrition potential. Something I didn't have a chance to add-- the USDA recently released new nutrition guidelines, promoting a diet with a "half plate of fuits and vegetables" for your meals. For raw foodists, this standard is nothing new. Eating more fruits and vegetables (in addition to a diet rich with grains, leafy greens and sprouts) has given them more energy, greater mental clarity and overall better health.
Here's the story...
Last Christmas, Rob Fuss received a handmade gift certificate from his daughter, Heather Fuss. As River School Farm director, Heather recently finalized the Raw Food 30-Day Challenge class and gave her father a certificate to enroll as a student. Rob had heard about raw food diets but didn’t know much about them. Before the first day of the challenge, he drank a few glasses of wine and joked it was his “last supper.”
“My vision of raw food was just eating carrot sticks and celery sticks,” he said.
Andrea Pitzer, editor of the Nieman Storyboard, shares what 2011 will bring for narrative and storytelling. For one, the shift to visual storytelling will pick up the pace. For us aspring writers I think she's dead on.
Aspiring storytellers will get less personal coaching, even as a broader range of people will be able to access information on craft via YouTube and writers’ networks.
Still, this new storytelling will likely be pretty messy through 2011. Telling a story depends on building a compelling arc, but it also relies on an audience finding a way to engage with the narrative. Quality work may fail to connect to audiences; other new-style narratives that have innovative, exciting aspects may not yet work as a whole.
Remember that, "Quality work may fail to connect to audiences; other new-style narratives that have innovative, exciting aspects may not yet work as a whole."