Really Good Journalism

I am currently searching for something to read. Newspaper wise that is. I’m fed up and tired of the Dallas Morning News, where the only thing worth reading comes from other papers. I’m wondering what other paper I should susbscribe to or whether to sacrifice the morning paper ritual in favor of additional magazine subscriptions. Magazines give you the better bang for the buck, I believe, they simply offer more substance.

So I was delighted to read David Brook’s piece in the NY Times that mentions the Sydney Awards which I’d never heard of. I’m assuming the pieces Brooks mentions are his personal nominations because I can’t find them on the awards page. But I will have to take a second look at the award winners of past years to find similarly good writing as the pieces he nominates.

Brooks mentions “The End” by Michael Lewis. It was a page turner ! I recommend it if you want to get an inside glimpse of the scary, crazy, and doomed temples of the financial world. And I recommend it if you simply like scary stuff. Seriously, read it. Maybe even pick up Lewis’ 1980s account of the crazy world of Wall Street “Liar’s Poker”. I might buy the book after reading this article.

Really good magazine articles are few and far between. But they are my favorite kind of non-fiction. Newspaper writing is ephemeral. Why waste time reading stuff over your cup of coffee that is out of date by the time you get to the office and turn on the computer ?! The news on the web does them in. At the other end of the spectrum are non-fiction books, most of which are magazine articles inflated to book volume.

A really good example is “The Wisdom of Crowds” which I have written about before. I really liked the first half of the book and its premise. But the book is too long. James Surowiecki’s pages have been some of my favorite writing in the New Yorker, and I am not sure whether it’s that he’s more adept at writing short articles than at writing books or whether non-fiction publishers intentionally take magazine material and bloat it into book format. The latter would contrast with Brooks’ finding that everything “becomes a shorter version of itself.”, meaning that journalism reinvents itself in ever smaller packaging, articles > blogs >twitter. But what do I know. There’s too much interesting to read as it is. The challenge is not in finding it but in selecting what little you have time for.


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