Tag Archives: times

Newspapers need to learn quick

I just read about the LA Times dropping their dedicated books coverage and eliminating staff. Not 10 minutes later I read about The Birmingham News and its plans to trim staff (which is a much nicer buyout deal than handing out pink slips).

I understand the competition and strain that newspapers are under. Plus, your larger news organizations are not the most nimble when it comes to redirecting content and adopting “new media” techniques. But they have to learn, and quick. Trained professional journalists are too valuable. I read a ton of blogs and websites. Most of them are good. But I still depend on the professional filters that journalists provide. There is too much noise and it’s nice to know that some folks are out there sorting through it for us.

At a minimum, I think every new organization that lets a reporter go should host them a blog for as long as they want to write. That seems fair to me! Think of all the extra traffic they’d get from content that they don’t have to pay for (except for the $5 in annual hosting fees).Plus, it would be a good way for them to get their feet wet in the digital age. I just don’t want all these skilled book reviewers and news hounds to go away. If they are over 50 and still doing their jobs it’s because they love and are good at it.

Why would you throw that away? New media or traditional print?

So that’s my contribution to the world this week. Give everyone a blog. Everything should be much better now.

Ghost (Writer) in the machine

Philip Parker is the most prolific author in history, according to Amazon. The NY Times ran this article about Philip Parker and his amazing technicolor technical writing machines. Apparently, Parker unleashes his computers on the Internet, which look in every nook and cranny to glean all stats, numbers, data, etc. Then Parker peppers in a few introductions and transition pieces, hits another button to format, create charts and an index and…. bam! You have a collection of 200,000 “published” books (actually they’re sitting in a POD database waiting until someone buys one).

Most are dry niche-technical stuff. The kind of specialist info you might expect from a data miner like the one he is running. But he says that he’s looking to produce works in one area-of fiction… the romance novel.

“I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”

Wow. Writing so formulaic that someone thinks a computer could do it? It will be interesting to see if it ever happens.