All posts filed under: Media

Five things I thought about when reading that gigantic New Yorker piece on Covid-19

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Media

Beyond “this thing is long.” Even though things have been shit, we got really, really lucky.The story doesn’t just detail the many things that went wrong as the virus emerged and various countries struggled to deal with it—including China’s reticence to admit anything was wrong, the WHO’s complete miss, the CDC’s testing debacle, failed leadership from the White House and so on. What came through to me was how there have also been a set […]

I’ll never complain about somebody filing long again

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Link / Media

“At roughly 31,000 words, the article is as long as a novella, roughly five times the length of a typical major magazine article.” “Mr. Wright, a staff writer at The New Yorker for nearly three decades, initially turned in 76,000 words. “I have an appetite to go into depth,” he said in an interview. (He added, with a laugh: “I get paid by the word.”)” —From the New York Times’ short note about the Lawrence […]

Books I read in 2020

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Media

A lot of things were hard this year. We had it better than many, better than most. No serious illnesses here, mainly just sadness and loneliness and tedium stitched together with moments of dread and panic. But those are all things that you can cope with. In my head, they were circumstances you could adapt to, even if you didn’t like them. People are capable of a lot. But the change that probably surprised me […]

Period pieces

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Media

We’re all spending too much time at home watching TV at precisely the moment that the billions spent on original content in the streaming wars kicks in, and so every week there’s a new must-watch binge show that’s being hailed all around and dissected from all angles (The Crown), or a not-very-secret secret that appears out of nowhere (Ted Lasso). I’m not sure how many of them we’ll remember in a few weeks, let alone […]

You’re interviewing somebody, not dating them

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Media / Workbook

Interviewing people is hard. It’s not easy to talk to someone to try and understand who they are and what they’re about. In journalism, you’re trying to get interviewees to say interesting things too—things that hold up on the page, sound good to the reader, that get the subject to provide a kind of forensic self-examination. The result is that the best interviews are elevated to an art form. But interviewing is also a skill […]

Mo Willems on pandemic parenting

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Media

Marchese: When I was first putting together my questions for you, I realized that a lot of them had to do with things like how we can help kids with the ambient stress of parents’ worrying about the pandemic or politics. But maybe it’s wrong for me to assume that a successful children’s-book author has unique ideas about kids’ emotions. So let me ask you: Do you think you have special insights about kids? Willems: […]

This is preposterous

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Media

A review of Zeke Emanuel’s new book comparing health systems across the world has as good a description of the American maze as I’ve seen. Britain is so lucky to have the NHS; I find it literally impossible to explain to people here how the system doesn’t have to be this way. By contrast, the US health care system—if one can call it that—excludes more people, provides thinner coverage, and is far less affordable. It […]

The biggest smallest story in the world

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Media

Jiayang Fan’s story about her mother’s ALS, covid, and Chinese propaganda was very affecting. Somehow she found herself in the middle of this whirlwind that illustrated—graphically, confrontingly—two huge global stories: the coronavirus pandemic and Chinese politics. But I was utterly riveted by her interview on the Longform podcast, which seemed to add a whole set of extra layers.

The reverse Chotiner

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Media

Britain’s left is riddled with anti-trans views in a way that continues to disappoint me. This interview with Judith Butler in the New Statesman is a great example of that, and of how to think about representation and poisonous discourse. We see a journalist trying to prod a certain kind of answer out of a thinker, and the thinker responding by rejecting the premises of questioning in an artful and coherent way. I confess to […]

Zombie news

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Media

For nearly as long as there has been newspapers and magazines, there have been people who use publications to launder their own reputations or advance their own agendas. Press barons were a real thing before fake news, and media ownership is still a great way for the powerful to access even more power. PR folks, meanwhile, take great pains to try and place op-eds by, or positive stories about, their clients in the pages of […]