A manifesto by This American Life's Stephanie Foo that tackles excuses for lack of diversity in public radio, and how, exactly, to address it.
There’s a question I’ve heard a lot lately. Program directors and hosts approach me at radio events more and more often (it’s not hard to spot me — I’m often one of the only People of Color [POC] in the room) and ask, “How do I reach a more diverse audience? And how do I hire more people of color?”
I’m glad they’re asking the question. It’s about time that public media came to terms with the fact that it does not serve the public as a whole. More hosts and program directors realize that a market of POC exists — and if they don’t cater to it, they’ll fail to grow their audience. And I’m glad the people in charge are realizing that when it comes to attracting minorities, throwing some hip-hop beatz as a transition between stories is about as effective and transparent as Mitt Romney’s spray tan. Finally, finally, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the solution to our diversity problem is hiring producers of color, and that diversifying your business is smart from a content perspective.
Maris Kreizman on evesdropping as part of the job, and evesdropping on how you learned your job, when you were a new editorial assistant.
The telephone was the preferred mode of communication for any busy editor, and we assistants were essentially operators, connecting our bosses to writers or to the bosses of other assistants, hearing how they flattered and evaded each other. We were supposed to learn how the industry worked by listening in, a step removed from the action but still hanging on the line, twisting the cord around our fingers.
The Awl published this long piece by Sam Stecklow on the state of the Chicago Sun-Times, and how their clunky, failing network was designed to take on bigger tech publisers.
The October 2014 press release announcing the launch of the Sun Times Network said that it was “designed to offer content in a manner similar to websites such as Deadspin and BuzzFeed, which aggregate news stories while offering additional commentary.” In an interview with Nieman Lab, Landon, who spent twenty-two years at the Tribune Company working on ad sales and classified services like Cars.com and CareerBuilder before being replaced during the disastrous Sam Zell era, said, “If I can take $10,000 a month, am I better off putting two or three kids against and creating lots of content? Am I better off hiring a known political writer that is controversial? Am I better off doing Facebook advertising? That’s the way you have to think about it.”
Michael Lewis takes a long look at Tom Wolfe for Vanity Fair.
In the late 1960s a bunch of writers leapt into the void: George Plimpton, Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, and the rest. Wolfe shepherded them into an uneasy group and labeled them the New Journalists. The New Journalists—with Wolfe in the lead—changed the balance of power between writers of fiction and writers of nonfiction, and they did it chiefly because of their willingness to submerge themselves in their subjects, and to steal from the novelist’s bag of tricks: scene-by-scene construction, use of dramatic dialogue, vivid characterization, shifting points of view, and so on.
I doubt I was ever alone in failing to find the whole New Journalism story entirely satisfying. (Hunter Thompson, for instance, wrote Wolfe, “You thieving pile of albino warts…. I’ll have your goddamn femurs ground into bone splinters if you ever mention my name again in connexion [sic] with that horrible ‘new journalism’ shuck you’re promoting.”) For a start, there wasn’t anything new about the techniques. Mark Twain used them to dramatize his experiences as a riverboat pilot and a gold miner. George Orwell set himself up as a destitute tramp and wrote up the experience as nonfiction. Virtually every British travel writer who has ever left an unpaid bill might be counted a New Journalist. When you look at that list of New Journalists, what pops to mind is not their common technique. It’s their uncommon voices. They leapt off the page. They didn’t sound like anyone else’s.