The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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The Perfect Wrong Analogy for Digital Reporting

I already have a love/hate relationship with this analogy from Virginia Heffernan:

Does anyone still believe that the forms of movies, television, magazines and newspapers might exist independently of their rapidly changing modes of distribution? The thought has become unsustainable. Take magazine writing. In school or on the job, magazine writers never learn anything so broad as to


Wait, I don’t understand your “but” — are you just saying, “hey, don’t be so cynical about media”? Like, maybe Heffernan needs some examples of contingent media forms that are sort of wonderful (even if no longer relevant) — the newspaper cartoon, the Wall Street Journal A-hed story, the NYT op-ed column at its best, etc.?

Or is it something else?

No, I think you’ve got it. Not so much the “don’t be cynical about media” — I think Heffernan is trying to say, hey, it’s not like the analogue world is this wonderful ideal place, without restrictions, totally devoted to noble goals of highbrow education. That anti-utopian dimension is important.

There’s also something smartly descriptive here. Experienced media professionals have good reason to be skeptical of managerial types who want them to tailor their style and/or learn new tools and/or contribute new content for free, since there’s usually some kind of con game or hack work involved.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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