John

Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Rediscovering The Art of Criticism from AA Gill

In magazines, Personal on November 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm

criticism

When I first started out writing for KLue, I was always excited about doing movie reviews. It may seem like a throwaway assignment; who needs ’em when you got the RottenTomatoes gauge? In many publications, reviews can be seen as the pits–training grounds where rookies start off, because what can be more uncomplicated about giving a rundown and a verdict of good, okay, and two thumbs down to whatever the subject is? 

But if all reviews were boiled down to a number (or thumbs), there’d be no point to writing one anyway. From the way many reviews are written in local papers and magazines, you can feel the writer’s mind dragging on as he/she plods to the inevitable verdict. It’s an unenthusiastic formula, and when stretched to a full 1000-word essay, I can sympathise with readers who want to skip to the end. 

All too often, reviews are peppered with adjectives disguising themselves as opinions — the movie was “good, spectacular, awesome, chilling, thrilling, funny, etc.” In food reviews, the dish can be “homely, quaint, mediocre, excellent, pleasant, imaginative,” while the decor can be “homely, quaint, mediocre, excellent, pleasant, imaginative…” you get the idea. No wonder we’re desperate to reach the final line: It’s like looking to an upper-management executive for constructive feedback.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The Ever-Changing Newspaper: Some Hope In Dark Times Ahead

In News, Online on November 21, 2008 at 8:50 pm

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(Pic from sxc.hu)

Ever so often when I go to the Guardian’s Media section, it used to be that I’d always first click onto the Press and Publishing section. It was, after all, directly related to the industry I was in–magazine publishing. It also had some great advice columns by David Hepworth and Dylan Jones, but over the past couple of years, there’s been little to cheer me up in that section.

Every other week in that section seems to be another towards Doomsday, more Eeyore moans about job cuts, sharply declining revenues, newspapers closing down, circulation figures dropping in ridiculous rates. (These days, for my own sanity, I first click around the Digital Media section) 

This week in the Media section featured a couple of postings that I think hints towards the future of newspapers and journalism. First, the bad news: It looks like the recession will hit the UK newspaper industry very badly, with ad revenues ‘will fall by 21% in 2009’, according to reports.

The UK newspaper industry, already reeling from the economic downturn, is heading for an even grimmer 2009 with advertising revenues forecast to fall by 21% next year, according to a report.

These figures reflect the “dramatic downgrading of the state of the UK economy in recent weeks and days, ending talk of a shallow and short recession”, the report stated.

The UK print ad market will be the worst hit of all media sectors in 2009, down 21%, with newspaper display ads down 22% and classifieds down about 19%, according to Enders Analysis. Growth will not return to the print ad market until some time after 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Some Thoughts on Twitter

In Online on November 19, 2008 at 4:50 pm

twitter-evolution

I didn’t really get Twitter at first and I thought that it represented all the worst things about blogging (navel gazing, echo chamber)…. Eventually, I came around. My family, who are generally far away, have a much better sense of what is going on in my life (even though sometimes I forget to call).
—Randy Stewart (comment on http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter)

That’s a typical quote from anyone who hadn’t previously used Twitter, the microblogging service that left many, including myself, confused as to where it fit in the whole Web environment. It was touted as a micro-blogging service–writing down a post in 140 characters or less–and though it’s an accurate summation of what Twitter does, it presented a public perception that was well short of its true potential, which we’re seeing some 2 years after it launched.

I know. I was in that category of people aware of Twitter’s existence early on, but could not, for the life of me, figure out its importance. Being a microblogging service, the first thought that came to my head was “Do I need another blog service?”, as I struggled to keep up to one blog. This was a time when Tumblr started to gain buzz, and all I could think of is how this is another flash in the pan web fad that will fade away.

Question the relevancy of Twitter these days, and you’ll get a stare that says: “You n00b. Twitter’s awesome.” Just a couple of days ago, TechCrunch talked about Twitter’s “Hockey Stick Moment, in terms of its growth just shooting up”, where since January, the site experienced a 16-fold growth in the U.S, and may have posted its billionth tweet sometime last week. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Back, Baby!

In Personal on November 17, 2008 at 9:02 am

im-back-baby

So, today’s the 17th, which means it’s the start of the third week since I’ve left my post as NewMan’s Editor, and also the third week that I’ve left my brains to rot–by the swimming pool, reading a book, and enjoying life in my new place. Can’t say that I’ve got much to complain about.

In all seriousness, leaving the NewMan job has also given me some time to refocus on the whys and whats of my life in the Media. Truth is, towards the end of my tenure there, I felt drained, uninspired, and having the disturbingly regular fantasy of pouring kerosene on press releases that I’ve to summarise at 11pm in the office.

The reasons why I wanted to become an Ed in the magazine industry–the buzz of telling stories worth telling, taking the time to craft features, coaching new writers–slowly faded away with each passing article that I continued to churn out in the same way one might cough out a hairball. Not that the fault rests on the PR folk (although some fragrance haiku press releases –i.e., ‘life in blossoming flower. The power of masculinity. Undeniable sensuality’–should indeed be doused in their own perfume and burnt to a crisp. That’s how I feel like reading them at 11pm.) Read the rest of this entry »