The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

The Boss Sure Can Write

Wow. Bill Keller’s memo from Tehran can be read almost as a direct rebuke to the Daily Show segment on the NYT. (Which, by the way, I didn’t think was very funny. The mean-spirited field segments have always been my least favorite part of that show.)

Kinda like: “How’s this for yesterday’s news?”

Something else to notice: Bill Keller can write like a dream.

On the streets around Fatemi Square, near the headquarters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, riot police officers dressed in Robocop gear roared down the sidewalks on motorcycles to disperse and intimidate the clots of pedestrians who gathered to share rumors and dismay.

“Another four years of dictatorship,” a voter muttered, and “this is a coup d’etat.” Several others agreed. Some women wept openly. Some talked of “mutiny.” Others were more cynical.

“It was just a movie,” said Hussein Gharibi, a 54-year-old juice vendor, scoffing at those who got their hopes up. “They were all just players in a movie.”

Crisp, imagistic (“dressed in Robocop gear”), revealing. Pretty amazing when the top (editorial) executive is also one of the best writers.


Howard Weaver says…

Re “Pretty amazing when the top (editorial) executive is also one of the best writers.”

I *always* found that to be the case, Robin.

Clarification: My comparison was supposed to be more (newspapers) vs. (other kind of media companies) than *NYT) vs. (other newspaper) — that is, chief programmers at TV networks or top dogs at record labels are almost certainly NOT also talented producers or accomplished musicians.

Whereas, you’re right, top editors are very often incredibly talented writers. Which is sort of amazing.

Howard Weaver says…

Sorry, Robin, I was just making a (bad) joke at my own expense, as a writer and former top editorial executive.

Your point is entirely well taken; Keller is most certainly an exception. In most news organizations, the best writers tend to keep writing. People become editors, rise in that role, based on entirely different talents. Sometimes they co-exist with writerly ability, often not.

I promise to use ironics typeface next time.

Yes, I ran across this today and thought, “Man, why doesn’t Keller write more often?”

Also, this story left me pretty sad.

I was excited to watch the Daily Show segment after seeing so many people link to it. I did NOT like it, I think partially because I’ve seen Bill Keller speak in panels before and I very much love him. He’s realistic and reasonable but at the same time very proud of the Times, both in terms of its past and its future. And not only is he a wonderful writer, he’s a great speaker as well. They must have had to do so much editing to reduce him to the caricature he came off as during the segment. Bleh.

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