Welcome to the 21st Century, Roger Ebert

December 1, 2008

When Roger Ebert was young, he used to walk to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways, and when he got there, he’d open the newspaper and read 5,000-word film reviews before class started. And he never complained.

Until now.

arodonnaThat’s because the lengthy, in-depth newspaper film review is dead, replaced by syndicated columnists and “news” about what A-Rodonna had for Thanksgiving dinner. So, like every other old school journalist who’s having trouble adapting to the 21st Century, Ebert is whining about it in a Chicago Sun-Times column:

The AP wants its writers on the entertainment beat to focus more on the kind of brief celebrity items its clients apparently hunger for. The AP, long considered obligatory to the task of running a North American newspaper, has been hit with some cancellations lately, and no doubt has been informed what its customers want: Affairs, divorces, addiction, disease, success, failure, death watches, tirades, arrests, hissy fits, scandals, who has been “seen with” somebody, who has been “spotted with” somebody, and “top ten” lists of the above. (Celebs “seen with” desire to be seen, celebs “spotted with” do not desire to be seen.)

The CelebCult virus is eating our culture alive, and newspapers voluntarily expose themselves to it.

Of course, he’s right. But he’s missing the point. In case you haven’t noticed, Rog, newspapers are a business, and business is bad. They’re giving readers what they want, and still nobody’s buying them. Imagine if they tried to force feed people with intellectual — or dare I say educational — news and critiques?

The good news in all of this is that there are still plenty of people interested in such content and plenty of places to get it. There are of course the good magazines like Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, but more and more of what Ebert’s looking for is found online. Unfortunately for him, he seems to treat online media as second-class, judging by this sentence:

The internationally-respected film critic of the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum, has retired, accepted a buy-out, will write for his blog, or something.

As Swimmin’ Hole! clearly demonstrates, blogs are the new frontier for in-depth, quality journalism. But the more important point — which Ebert seems to be missing — is that the medium is becoming less important than the actual content. With these newfangled computer thingies, we can find what we’re looking for — whether it’s a 5,000-word movie review, a 200-word article about Britney Spears or a rant about an out-of-touch film critic — wherever it happens to be.

And if you don’t realize that, you’re REALLY out of touch:

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Superman the blogger?

November 25, 2008

Science fiction blog io9 has a pretty funny post about what will happen to Clark Kent/Superman when Metropolis’ biggest newspaper, the Daily Planet, starts cutting costs and offering buyouts.

He’ll suffer the “gross injustice” of becoming a blogger:

You file your post, you see your byline on the front page, you smile…and then the comments start coming in, and you think, I know I addressed that point in plain English. Hey, I didn’t say that, why are you attacking me for saying that? Seriously, do you not get that it was a joke? Hey, I didn’t say that either. I do not even know what that means. No, that’s not socialism. Hitl—really? You went there? Did you even read what I wrote? That’s what passes for logic in your world? THIS WASN’T EVEN ABOUT THE WATCHMEN MOVIE!

And that’s just if he’s lucky enough to write for io9. We commenters over here are, by and large, Pulitzer nominees compared with what they get at, say, newsweek.com. And Clark would probably end up somewhere like that; he’s not hip enough for Slate or New York.

Clark, when that fateful day comes, there’s a spot open for you at Swimmin’ Hole! And don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us.

(Via Bloggasm)