Just Above Sunset
May 16, 2004- "On the Road" - or is "You could look it up on the Internet" better?
"On the Road" - or is "You could look it up on the Internet" better?
World’s Laziest Journalist
By Bob Patterson
[Humor warning. In a pathetic attempt to elicit a smirk (or small chuckle) the columnist has (in some instances) exaggerated just a little bit, and/or resorted to fabricated facts and/or quotes to set up the punch line. Proceed at your own peril.]
Should journalists go out on patrol to gather the news or is it more efficient and cost effective to encourage them to sit in the office and use the capabilities of the Internet to gather the facts for a story?
It’s not one of those topics where one particular fact will settle it for good (either you know Ty Cobb’s lifetime batting average or you don’t); it’s more like a matter of taste, training, and family traditions, as in the Ford vs. Chevrolet battle.
On the one hand, someone like my former beloved editor and publisher (at Delusions of Adequacy) scours the world electronically to cover the subject of Independent music thoroughly, then he goes out to various clubs to experience the contemporary scene personally.
My new beloved editor and publisher, whose interest gravitates toward political opinion, literature, and photography, in a matter of minutes, can check in on the underground artists scene in Paris (France not Texas or Hilton), the new English language page for Der Spiegel magazine in Germany, or the just added web oriented blog central page for the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.
After a warm-up of his coffee, he can continue on to the site for English language news in Buenos Aires
or maybe it’s time to say "Phuket" and find out what’s happening there.
The walkabout method offers the opportunity for experiencing the delights of “serendipity.” Is it this writer’s contention that a neighborhood jaunt to meet up with a friend for lunch can produce a great story when the columnist bumps into some interesting fellows who are just about to embark on a drive around the world?
It happened once and so that very topic is indeed exhibit A for that kind of aimless approach to journalism. Last time we checked they were approaching Perth.
One of the things we have on our “to do” list during this transition period is to drum up some publicity so that folks will know where to find us. In the desperate hopes that we can submit an item to Steve Harvey’s LA Times column “Only in LA” and get some publicity for Just Above Sunset online magazine, we’ve been on the alert for some tidbit he could use. A reconnoitering mission to get material might prove our point of contention here and get us a mention there. In Westwood, we passed a sign that we thought might qualify. If you’ve seen a plug for this online magazine in his column late last week - that means the “man in the street” approach to journalism works.
Many moons ago, we saw the blogfather Glenn Reynolds speak at a University in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, and Glenn Reynolds noted that in writing for his Instapundit blog, the more he provided his readers with links to other websites, which could conceivably drain away his readers, the bigger his circulation figures became. It was a sort of “miracle of loaves and fishes” type phenomenon. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and so this column will try to duplicate the results of that modus operandi.
Odds are that we won’t get mentioned there.
If we offer a link trade deal maybe the Obscure Store will list this online magazine among their “weblogs, Indies, etc.” listing of links. That website deals in offbeat news items that will score high on the amuse and entertain meter.
We’ll send another story to L.A. Observed where the Kevin Roderick keeps track of all the inside news of LA based media and personnel. Then, we will mumble our version of the press agent’s prayer: “Gees, maybe he’ll get this on a slow news day, when he’s hard up for material to use.”
In our past Internet incarnation this columnist tended to take the US’s neighbor to the North a bit for granted. In the early seventies this columnist took a railroad trip across Canada. You could buy a ticket from Toronto to Vancouver, but if you wanted to get off the train see the local sites, and then continue the journey on a later train, you could do that. Such a leisurely approach to going West was the epitome of success for a writer trying to emulate the hippie/beatnik lifestyle.
While getting a hitchhike ride between Jasper and Banff, a timber wolf was sighted. The driver said some locals lived their entire life without seeing one. At one point a fellow passenger on the train was an American entertainer named Mack Davis. We enjoy the memories of seeing Saskatoon, passing through Squaw Junction, and visiting Vancouver, but we tend to dwell on the allure of places where we have not yet been, but hope to see before it’s time to sit down and write our autobiography. Hence we tend to pepper our columns with items about and references to things Australian. An old dog doesn’t change his spots. Neither do columnists eligible for membership in the AARP posse. Thus we pay particular attention to finding items of/for/and about Australia for any column we write.
There’s a number in the movie musical Paint You Wagon, sung by Clint Eastwood, titled I Was Born Under a Wanderin’ Star. Some travel-oriented individuals think that where you have been isn’t as much fun as some of the other places you haven’t been to yet.
In the past, we’ve had a knack for adding items to the column, before the press release arrives. Do you think some entrepreneur will show there is no shame in Hollywood and try to cash in on current events by re-releasing the movie Ilsa - She-wolf of the SS? So why wait for the press release to arrive? (If it happens and you go to see that flick, notice just how closely the sets in that film resemble the sets used for the TV series Hogan’s Heros.)
Is that good journalism?
What is good journalism? NPR’s Bob Edwards has written a book on Edward R. Murrow. According to the buzz on the book, Murrow, who was well known for smoking, exaggerated on his resume before he got his first radio job. These days, the politicians, a group long renowned for their own honesty and integrity, would say that that example of a job hunter’s failure would constitute grounds for disbarring him as a broadcast journalist. The fact that Edward R. Murrow’s name is used to designate the awards given for excellence in broadcast journalism should settle the questions about any possibilities that nicotine and alcohol impaired his ability to perform his job.
So we get to the “closer” point. Did Edward R. Murrow go out and cover stories personally? Didn’t he do an excellent “on the scene” series from London during the blitz? Did he ever use the Internet to research a story? There you have it. If he didn’t, why should current staff members for big name news organizations have to be sequestered in the newsroom? Bring back “beat” reporting. (Was Kerouac a beat reporter or just a beat novelist?)
Here’s a quote with more than a small ironic touch: “He said we were a band of Arabs coming in to blow up New York.” Jack Kerouac in On the Road - Second Chapter of Part two. Page 117 in the Penguin Books paperback edition.
So, now if the disk jockey will play Nelson Riddle’s version of “Route 66” we’ll roll out of here. Hopefully next week’s topic will occur to us before we reconvene here seven days hence. Until then, have a good week.
Copyright © 2004 – Robert Patterson
We asked veteran journalist Bob Patterson for a bio and he sent this along:
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