What Can Journalists Learn from Novelists and other Writers?

Los Angeles Times Book Festival Notes:

Rebooting Culture Panel

Journo Nicholas Carr, who penned the viral article, “Is Google making us stupid?”:

  • The printed book trained our minds to pay attention but this was “an anomaly in our intellectual history.”
  • The human mind is scattered and easily distracted, so the fragments and speed of online information are more reflective of our natural state.  We’re losing our ability to reflect and contemplate.

U of  Washington English prof David Shields, whose new book is a series of fragmented aphorisms, 45% of which are lifted from a range of other authors, some serious, some not:

  • The novel  no longer reflects our lives. Its key components such as “setting” no longer are important because we experience space as a much less static phenomenon. Having a “plot” conveys a coherence that doesn’t exist.
  • Mashups are the crucial cultural form today.  Linear forms keep artists conservative.
  • Copyright and even plagiarism need to be rethought.  His book’s footnotes are printed on pages with a note encouraging readers to tear them out of the book.

Former hacker Anders Monson who wrote a half-print/half e-book memoir, Vanishing Point, which he calls “voice karaoke” whose latest  book is a “collage” of over 100 other people’s memoirs:

  • “the self is an inherently unstable thing.”

Panel: New Media Meets Publishing

  • writers are rewriting a single narrative for multiple platforms in which the characters or even plot are changed
  • involve the audience
  • people still willing to donate a few dollars even for free e-books
  • give away a preview to draw in an audience
  • Wil Wheaton: self publish via epubbooks or Lulu

Was in the stand-by line for the panel on the collapsing US economy but decided it was too depressing, so I  got an espresso instead.   Panel on China as Next Superpower was “sold out.”  Walked out of a panel on science writing because the moderator was annoying and had really bad hair.

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4 thoughts on “What Can Journalists Learn from Novelists and other Writers?

  1. Faulkner and Hemingway come to mind when thinking about this dichotomy. Both thought of each other as drunken literary idiots. The former would sporadically write for pages without a single comma or period, the latter would sound like a stenographer. Both are considered geniuses today. I bet they’d fit right in, in the age of twitter, et al.

  2. Don’t mean to spam here, but this is straight from Mr. Hemingway’s blog, “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

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