PAPERBOY: What’s Black & White & Dead All Over?

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right, these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. We pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey center. Why? Because we love you!


PW: The death knell for print journalism has been sounding for a while now, but don’t call George Miller’s piece an obit. He reports from the frontlines of student journalism and explores the hand-wringing, hair-extracting question that all teachers and practitioners of journalism face: how do you tell a student to pursue a career in this field?

“When you’re a journalist, telling people what you do these days can evoke a mix of sympathy and disdain. pwcover94.jpg

All of which brings about the ultimate question, the one I’ve been asked numerous times since I started teaching journalism to college students: How in good conscience can I stand in front of a classroom and encourage college kids to enter a dying profession?

My answer: Journalism isn’t dying. It’s just evolving.

The public may have turned against traditional media but it doesn’t mean they don’t want news and information. The challenge now is to figure out how to earn the money to generate the information, and discover the most efficient ways to deliver it.

It’s a new media world and, I would argue, the most inspiring time in history to be an aspiring journalist.”

This one hits a little close to home for me: I toiled in the newsroom of a campus weekly for a few years, and the ink only just dried on my J-school degree. But there’s some good takeaway here: start small; work hard; if you develop a niche, become smarter at it than anyone else in it (like the ex-Baltimore Sun photographer). Miller’s media experts seemed a little tossed-in – three sources all jammed together with one quote each at the bottom of one graf – but his first-person experiences balance that out with grit, color and, most critically, optimism. Oh, and to the kid who says he’d go to Juneau, Alaska for a job? Drop out and get your plane ticket now; this Palin stuff’s a goldmine.

CP: It might be time I spring for a Kindle, because CP’s Book Quarterly is gonna put me over my dead-trees-and-ink quota for the year. Two thoughtful excerpts have a strong pull in opposite directions: optimistic musing  on Philly’s future from Nathaniel Popkin’s The Possible City, and the darker side of humanity in Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook, with game-day fervor at the Linc giving way to animosity, violence and confusion.

“On the sidewalk, outside of the puddle I am making, pieces of broken glass glint and sparkle in the sun.

I cry.

I feel awful.

I realize that I have once again failed to be kind; that I lost control in a big way; that I seriously injured another person, and therefore I’m never going to get Nikki back now. Apart time is going to last forever because my wife is a pacifist who would never want me to hit anyone under any circumstance, and both God and Jesus were obviously rooting for me to turn the other cheek, so I know I really shouldn’t have hit that Giants fan, and now I’m crying again because I’m such a fucking waste — such a fucking non-person.”

cp_2008-09-04.jpgOn top of all that, there’s enough intriguing nonfiction and tasty fiction (Roth and Klosterman rank high on my list) on the horizon to drive me to blissful, bookish bankruptcy.


PW: Pat Buchanan, still finding ways to ruin elections even after the Butterfly Ballot. Excavating two Philly stadiums, long after the boys of summer have gone. Worthy drinks, wimpy eats at Azul. Cataloging the continued downward slide of Nicolas Cage: see also, anything ending in “Man” (Family, Weather, Wicker).

CP: The deliciousness of Tastykakes is widely known, their aerodynamic properties less so. We mere mortals are not ready for the Israeli insanity of Monotonix. Conceptual-art karaoke: never before I have been so tempted to pre-game a gallery opening. A West Philly baker turns dough into more than just Homer Simpson’s trademark exclamation.

WINNER: Things are getting kind of meta this week. Phawker staffers in the pages of CP, a story by a journalist about journalists in the pages of a supposedly-in-decline medium… my head is spinning. Edge to PW for making me want to get out there, report, and make a difference instead of holing up in Barnes and Noble ’til winter.

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