My magazine project is about as finished as it will ever be without hiring professionals to shear off the edges and make it presentable as a commercial quality product. That said, I’m quite pleased with how far I’ve brought it myself.
There is a limit, of course, to how far I can, and even want to, take it. I suppose that I could spend another year delving into the depths of Python and become really proficient with it, but I have to ask myself what the point of that would be.
If I wanted to be a coder and a computer person, I would have educated myself as one. The driving force of my ambition to learn Python was for me to be able to realise an aesthetic product. It was always the artsy geek who was in charge, and not whatever latent tech geek that hide in me.
And now that I’ve come to this point where the thing just works, I guess it is time to step back and test it from the artsy geek perspective. Can this thing deliver on the aesthetic goal that I’ve always had?
Since it is a journalistic product, I have to think about what kind of journalism it would do, and that’s where it falls down a bit because what I want to do takes time and effort and resources. Those things I don’t have in abundance. Particularly time.
I don’t have an onerous amount of lectures and classes. In fact, I think, compared to college, that I have quite an easy regiment here. But it still demands maybe 20 or 30 hours a week in total. To pursue this project in the way it deserves would mean the double of that.
I mean, I sort of detest the usual way to do these kinds of things; the re-write website that takes what other people have researched and rewrite it. I mean, the likes of Salon or Slate or even The Atlantic aren’t really models to emulate. Not unless all I want is money, because then I could do like them and create click farms for Internet ads.
Also, it would cater to the worst form of journalism, in my opinion, the partisan type where the writers don’t actually know enough to step away from the partisan line. It is a journalism that doesn’t invest in itself, that doesn’t think for itself, that doesn’t push the boundaries. Pushing things, thinking things, checking what is real or not is what I would like to do, and this is what would need so much time and effort.
There are two other kinds of journalism; mainstream and activist. You can say it’s the difference between what New York Times does, and what Glenn Greenwald does. In the NYT case, it’s bland and boring, and liable to manipulation. In Glenn Greenwald’s case, it’s feisty and passionate, but liable to being blind to its own flaws.
I’ve been thinking of ‘evidence based journalism’. I don’t know if there is such a thing. I think that could be a marriage between the mainstream and the activist form that would work. If ‘evidence’ is front and center, then I could write passionately – and I would lessen the risk of putting on blinders against what I don’t want to hear. Do you see what I mean?
I think that the evidence would be a commodity that would be worth selling, and I think that’s what could make this magazine project into a practical commercial thing. Instead of relying on ads and subscriptions, the valuable thing could be the research and the facts.
That’s what I’ve had in mind with my ‘paywall’ thinking. It is not so much to hide the words and the text, but rather to let people buy the data that the text is based on. Raw audio recordings of interviews, statistics, transcripts, and so on. Journalists have degrees in media, and not economics or mathematics. Journalists words are not credible as such on their own as sources.
Talking head journalism means nothing. Journalists are only credible by the strength of the facts and the evidence they have to present. Their mere opinion of something fails when you evaluate their credibility about the subject they are having an opinion about. Facts and evidence is the commodity that I think people would pay for, but that is also the thing that forces me to pause and think because getting that evidence is going to take a lot of time and patience.
So, now I can declare that the development phase of my magazine project is over, and now I will have to take some time to think whether I should take it to the next stage. And I’m not at all sure about that.
I think that I should put it on hold for a couple of years, until I know far more about what time sink this school is going to be. I know nothing about what it will be like in year two, or year three. And this university is going to place us in work programs for a year as well, and that’s going to need a lot of time.
Still, I think I have something here, and although I’m probably too close to the project to have a truly holistic and overall view detached from my wants and desires about it. Maybe taking the time to think about it will give me that overall perspective.