Jimmy Guterman's blog

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Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

This Is What the End of The Boston Globe Looks Like

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The Boston Globe, founded in 1872, is no NewCo. It’s infuriating, provincial … and absolutely essential to my community. Although I read it almost exclusively online these days, I do enjoy that virtual thud announcing there’s a new Globe available to me every morning, on my screen if not at the end of my driveway.
The Globe has an inventive feature today, a mock front page imagining what life under a Trump administration might look like. It’s reasonably well done from an editorial standpoint and there are plenty of points to argue over, but I believe that the way the Globe is distributing it shows why the publication is even more doomed than I thought (and that feeling of doom goes up all the way to the newspaper’s current editor).
This smart, potentially shareable, maybe even viral feature was published and it being distributed in a quarter-century-old print-centric manner. Here’s what the front page of the Globe looks like online on a phone, where more people every day get their news.
IMG_1139
There’s no hint of the conceptual coup in today’s issue. When you finally dig around and find it, it looks like this:
IMG_1140
It’s stuffed under a link to a different story, a blurry image that leads to a PDF, which is only marginally more readable. The newspaper had a great idea today, an idea that would get it readers, some of whom will believe this material is worth paying for, and it executed and distributed it in a clueless manner.
As its remaining readers age, the Globe does not have a future as a printed newspaper. I hope it has a future as a platform-agnostic news operation. The job it does is too important for it to go away without damaging the community. What’s going to take its place? Silence and ignorance. No one wants that, except maybe the people in power who the Globe has a rich history of unmasking. Please do better. We need you!

Written by guterman

April 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Best sentence of the day refuting conventional wisdom about a particularly odious Republican presidential candidate

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This theory is a lot like that Red Lobster menu, seeming to present an endless array of options, but most of them are just the same limited palette of cheap ingredients reconstituted in different ways.

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com

Written by guterman

January 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

When the gales of November came early

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The good news: The Detroit News has published 16 pieces about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The bad news: Only one of them is mostly about Gordon Lightfoot.

Written by guterman

November 11, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Posted in journalism, music

Detail! Detail!

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Sometimes a small, specific unexpected detail can pull you into a piece. Here are the first few sentences of a piece by Steve Coll in this week’s New Yorker about the deal recently reached between Iran and various world powers.

In the late nineteen-eighties, in Switzerland, Iranian officials met with collaborators of A. Q. Khan, the scientist who fathered Pakistan’s nuclear-bomb program. The parties may also have met in Dubai, where Khan maintained a secret office above a children’s store called Mummy & Me. In 1987, the Iranians received a one-page document that included the offer of a disassembled centrifuge, along with diagrams of the machine. They reportedly ended up paying as much as ten million dollars for information and materials that helped Iran advance its nuclear program during the nineteen-nineties.

I’ve boldfaced the part that made it impossible for me not to read the whole article. Illicit nuclear negotiations atop a children’s store! With a great name! Who wouldn’t want to see where this article goes?

Written by guterman

July 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Posted in ass-kicking, journalism

In which one gifted journalist sizes up a giant

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photo credit: Mike Lien/The New York Times, 1971

Mike Lien/The New York Times, 1971

The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar.

— One of many, many wonderful sentences in David Carr’s remembrance of Ben Bradlee

The whole column is worth reading and probably worth memorizing, but if you’re in TL;DR mode at least read the full paragraph in which that sentence arrives:

So in 1969, [Bradlee] conjured Style, a hip, cheeky section of the newspaper that reflected the tumult of the times in a city where fashion and discourse were rived with a maddening sameness. The effect on the business was profound, as if Chuck Berry had walked into a Glenn Miller show and started playing guitar. He expanded the vernacular of newspapering, enabling real, actual writers to shed the shackles of convention and generate daily discourse that made people laugh, spill their coffee or throw The Post down in disgust.

Written by guterman

October 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Best insult of a workplace environment buried in a profile of Spotify of all time of the week

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Aside from walls made from whiteboards, it feels like a place where people would go to sit around, smoke pot, and listen to John Legend.

Spotify Hits 10 Million Paid Users. Now Can It Make Money? (Businessweek)

Written by guterman

May 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Posted in journalism, reading

Stephen Wolfram’s Excellent Adventure

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The last freelance assignment I took before I joined Collective Next last year has just been published. It’s a profile of Stephen Wolfram for strategy+business, a magazine that was published by Booz and Company when I did the work and is now published by PwC. (Long print publishing cycles means your magazine might get bought out while your draft is in proofs.)

The idea behind the profile was to write about Wolfram not as a scientist, which has been done 10 zillion times, but as the idiosyncratic and very successful founder and CEO of an idiosyncratic and very successful company. I had a lot of room to riff on everything from Isaac Newton’s back-cover book-quote policy to what it’s like to run a company via the phone.

My only disappointment with the piece (which was edited, expertly, by Paul Michelman) is that it isn’t accompanied by this photograph, in which MacArthur Fellow and TED speaker Wolfram stands alongside former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who probably hasn’t read all 1,192 pages of A New Kind of Science:

Stephen 'n' Slash

Stephen ‘n’ Slash

You can read the article here.

Written by guterman

May 5, 2014 at 9:36 pm

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