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November 21, 2008

Slow Food, Slow Words, Fast Pictures

Well, I too was at the aforementioned Slow Journalism panel, passing the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism "helper" baton to John. Though I think the Slow label lends itself too easily to bad jokes, I agree with Doug's idea that many of the principles of the Slow Food movement may be applied to journalism in general -- and arts journalism especially. Sure, large traditional companies are overworking already hammered critics, reporters, and editors in the name of online presence. (Two blog posts a week! Audio slideshow! Flip it!) But I don't blame the Internet itself for that. And a digital pluralism of voices doesn't necessarily undermine quality, which is the fear some of us old fogeys have.


By the way, newsprint folks, has the Newspaper Guild just rolled over and died? Actually, it did years ago, when the union refused to understand the importance of freelancers and how they/we would be employed (as it were) to undermine staff jobs. At least the U.A.W. raises a flag for its members as government billions change hands.


I would like to focus, though, on a statement someone in our business made, a very smart person on the digital side of the Internet divide. Working so closely and constantly with images, this introspective journalist claimed, has made it more difficult to write.


Aren't images enough? Some blogs, for example, do marvelous things with them, with or without captions. narrative or not. Still, the troubled journalist was worried that the writing part of his imagination needed exercise, needed time to wade into deeper water.


An art critic for more than four decades told me that at one of his jobs, he wasn't allowed to choose the images (the photo editor did, usually of artist-friends). So the critic learned to write in an "I am a camera" manner, squeezing description, evaluation, and occasionally that extra "why is this important?" thought into the few hundred words he had. Would he rather have had photos galore to play with, as he does on his blog now? "Both words and photos," he told me. "As long as I have enough time."

November 21, 2008 8:01 AM | | Comments (0)

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