Dave Eggers Speaks Up for Newspapers

| 7/17/2009 12:19:46 PM

Dave Eggers speaksNewspapers are being written off by scores of pundits like Clay Shirky, but author, McSweeney’s publisher, and Utne Visionary Dave Eggers is standing up for them. In an interview with Salon, Eggers says the young people he teaches in his 826 Valencia writing program give him hope:

“I think there’s a future where the Web and print coexist and they each do things uniquely and complement each other, and we have what could be the ultimate and best-yet array of journalistic venues. I think right now everyone’s assuming it’s a zero-sum situation, and I just don’t see it that way.

“Our students at 826 Valencia still have a newspaper class, where we print an actual newspaper, and we do magazine classes and anthologies where they’re all printed on paper. That’s the main way we get them motivated, that they know it’s going to be in print. It’s much harder for us to motivate the students when they think it’s only going to be on the Web.

 “The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don’t see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it’s dead or dying. I think we’ve given up a little too soon.”

(Thanks, Romenesko.)

Image by Erik Charlton, licensed under Creative Commons.

King Wenclas_3
7/18/2009 2:36:24 PM

Local papers, even in fairly large cities like Philly and Detroit, are their own enemy in that they allow their arts news to be dominated from New York, rather than recognizing great homegrown happenings and talent. This is definitely the case with the literary world. Even in the heyday of the Underground Literary Alliance when we were doing the most exciting shows imaginable, getting mentioned every month in Page Six in New York, we were ignored by the major newspaper in our own Philadelphia backyard. Which was their loss. They'd prefer a feature article about dead South American rebel Roberto Bolano to one about very ALIVE rebels in their own town. Mr. Eggers, by the way, has always been fake-DIY in that from the start of McSweeney's he was backed by the conglomerates in New York, and is currently entwined in deals with them. He is, as much as anyone, the voice of the literary Establishment. For genuine rebels check the list of names at www.penpetition.blogspot.com and maybe join the cause yourself. Thank you.

Tom Hendricks
7/17/2009 8:37:01 PM

The problem is not newspapers, its the fake false ad-driven drivel they serve up. We need good journalism, and papers are wasting copy doing 8X10 photos, polls, and pie charts. They have worked hard to become irrelevant. Let them reap their just desserts. It is difficult to tell where the news starts and the ads stop. Too many of the articles are press releases with a byline. Here's a example of how they have treated their readers. Where was the last time you saw a College Students News section in a daily paper? They don't cover that segment of the population because their is no ad revenue. Colleges don't buy ads so their news is not covered. Next come seniors, and kids, and anyone from any country not in the middle east or a war zone. So great parts of readers are dismissed for not buying enough ads. The news as we have now is a mess. This and about 100 other reasons are good enough for me to help these dailies out the door. I won't miss our local daily in Dallas.

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