The New Journalism
In the 1960s the term new journalism became popular. Loosely defined, it meant that techniques usually associated with fiction were being used by newspaper and magazine writers. The popular examples were mostly the New York Esquire/New York Magazine crowd. Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese and Dick Schaap were among the best known
Today, we have something we might call the new new journalism, a.k.a. the blog. A few weeks back we wrote that former Miami Herald investigative reporter Dan Christensen was launching “Broward Bulldog” –- an online newspaper designed to fill the void being left as print newspapers are losing clout, and losing a lot of experienced reporters who need something to do. It did not take long for Christensen’s idea to click. Several of his blogs have appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, with attribution, of course. When you have that kind of credibility, the papers will run your stuff. Christensen’s problem is figuring out a way to fund the non-profit site.
It will take some time for Christensen to catch up with what has to be one of the most read blogs in the land. “Daily Pulp” by New Times Broward/Palm Beach’s Bob Norman has been around for several years, gaining a broad audience for the news Norman has first broken in print. Recently, with the Scott Rothstein story, his blog has gone nuts, in more ways than one. A series of recent blogs about Rothstein’s charity giving, with money he allegedly stole, developed more than 150 comments within hours. And from talk around town, those who respond are only a fraction of the total readers. Most people have enough sense not to dive into that bubbling pool of anti-Semitism and often reckless character bashing. We are referring to the anonymous posters, not the blog itself. Because it is so easy to do, and secretive, far more people are inclined to jump in than would ever take the trouble to write letters to the editor.
That said, it makes stimulating reading. Which is why posters often use the word “addictive.” A lot of the posts are pure entertainment, frustrated poets or wannabe private detectives sharing their skills, and others write in such code that you can’t figure out their point. But you get the impression that along with nuts, there are sound and informed minds at work. Obviously, the feds are watching, and perhaps even playing with teaser posts. When it gets into religion, some posters are clearly avid students, if not scholars, of organized religion. Others display knowledge of the legal system that no layman could have. It is hard, for anybody who cares about this part of South Florida, not to feel addicted.
The bottom line, according to New Times editor Eric Barton: “Daily Pulp” readership has increased by two and one-half times in the last month since the Rothstein story broke. He says the blog is on the way to one million page views in November.
“In general, it is local people reading it,” Barton says. “And the comments amount to people self-publishing.”
New journalism? Can you trust it? Not always, maybe not most of the time, but it is out there. We say again, one million views. Sooner or later, somebody will figure a way to make money.