Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday February 20 2011

The last time I wrote a big set piece article for a “magazine” (made of actual paper) it was about the state of the economic and ideological debate, and during the months between me writing it and them publishing it, the banking crisis erupted.  So, when I read this passage, in a piece by Thomas P. M. Barnett, I immediately copied it, with a view to pasting it here.  Here it is:

What most people don’t realize is that, if an article appears in the May issue, it comes out in early April, which means it goes to the printers in early March, which means you edited it in February and probably wrote it in late January or early February, meaning you researched or reported it back in December. Now, when it’s a set piece (e.g., you interview somebody), the timeline’s not so crucial, but when you’re presenting the “State of the World,” you’re trapped somewhat in dealing with current events (duh!), so you’re not only dealing with some hedging language here and there, you risk some great intervening event ruining your whole party.

That was published in April 2007.  It remains true.  No magical speeding up of magazine editing and magazine printing has occurred, to my knowledge.

I prefer blogging.  At least when it says Feb 20th 2011 on your posting, you get the chance, on Feb 20th 2011, to phrase things right, given what kinds of things were happening during the previous few weeks or months.

What happened between the writing of my magazine piece and its publication was, thanks to that banking melt-down, a supposed revival of Keynesianism.  This happened in practice, but not in theory, and is already resulting (as it had not then) in what Keynesianism in practice caused last time around (when the world still contained serious academics who seriously believed in Keynesianism), namely that particular combination of economic stagnation and inflation known as stagflation.  But by not even mentioning this semi-Keynesian revival, such as it has been, I made myself look, that is to say I was made by the magazine to look, like a prune.  Or I would have been, if anyone had read the damn thing, which I doubt many did.

This is one of the many reasons why paper is doomed as a serious medium of publication, other than as a means of printing out long and unwieldy blog postings, so that people who don’t have any sort of iThing can read them on the train or on the toilet.

Another reason that paper is doomed is that it makes it so much more inconvenient to read things that were good when published in April 2007 and are still good now.

I used to read lots of magazines (multiple titles per week). These days I don’t read any, although I read magazine journalism when someone sends me a link to an interesting article. The relevance of the actual magazine is questionable when this happens, however.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 February 2011

When I started as a financial journalist in 1994, working for a US newswire, moving away from print, I recall how some of my journalist friends and others thought I was in fantasy land. There is, also, a lingering snobbery about how such electronic media are less “real” or “substantive” than print.

It was bollocks then, but perhaps understandable. Now, it is absurd. The collective output of a blogger over a period of time can amount to a serious body of work. And often with higher standards of footnoting, cross-referencing, and so on.

Posted by Tom B on 20 February 2011

Tom B

And paper, with all its delays, is particularly silly for financial journalists.

I recall reading long ago about financial dealers (who are, let it be noted, people with plenty of money to spend on the right service), obsessing about the “Wire Services”.  The idea that such people would be willing to hang about for tomorrow’s newspaper, let along a two-months-out-of-date magazine, is absurd.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 21 February 2011
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