February 25, 2008

Next Stop: London

Next Stop: London

For the rest of this week I will be in London, scoping out the transformations of media, reflecting with the openDemocracy crowd on Credibility in the New News, visiting the BBC’s experiment (not so unlike Open Source) with a listener-driven interactive radio show on the Web, World Have Your Say, and interviewing as many as possible of the young drivers of Internet conversations we admire. I also have a date to interview the magisterial historian Eric Hobsbawm, who at age 90 provides a sort of text for this trip, this moment, this London conference, in his new book On Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy:

Eric Hobsbawm

It is impossible to talk about the political future of the world unless we bear in mind that we are living through a period when history — that is to say, the process of change in human life and society and the human impact on the global environment — has been accelerating at a dizzying pace. It is now proceeding at a speed which puts the future of both the human race and the natural environment at risk. In the middle of the last century we suddenly entered a new phase in world history which has brought to an end history as we have known it in the past ten thousand years, that is to say, since the invention of sedentary agriculture. We don’t know where we are going.

Historian Eric Hobsbawm in his forthcoming collection of essays and speeches On Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy, page 35.
josh marshall

Josh Marshall

Hats off and hearty congratulations to Joshua Micah Marshall on his Polk award and fitting splash on the New York Times business front this morning. Brown University’s own Joshua is beginning to look like the Henry Luce of our century for the fecundity of the TPM idea (fanning out in TPM Cafe and TPM Muckraker as the Luce empire spread from TIME to LIFE, Fortune and Sports Illustrated) at the same time TPM’s up-from-the-readership, anti-corporate and reformist zeal turns the Luce premises inside out.

And hats off, while we’re at it, to the New York Times itself, which really opened itself today as never before (that I’ve noticed) to the high, humbling winds of the blogosphere. Here is a glimpse of the blessed day coming when the Times makes the Web a two-way tool and lets its readers do a lot of its reporting. The subject at hand was Russia and the Times’s grim diagnosis of the consolidated Putinocracy. Last Friday the Times posted a Russian translation of the long article on Russia’s most popular blogging platform, and by Sunday evening had 3000 responses. Among them:

“It is funny to read this from people who, for 10 years, have invaded other countries, toppled the stable regimes that ruled and enforced their rules there. Especially funny to read it if you don’t forget about prisons and torture in Guantánamo. And completely funny when you recall how these people hanged the former president of the country they invaded. Why am I saying this? Because Mr. Putin and his team are evil, of course. And only cattle vote for him. BUT these are OUR problems. And WE will sort them out.” happy_bra

“If it’s a propaganda material, it is very stupid and weak. If it’s a journalist’s text, such journalists have to fired for professional incapacity. It’s better not to translate such a nightmare into Russian. One can only repeat what McCain’s wife said: I am ashamed for The New York Times.” panam

“You’re facing an uphill perception battle. Your article is a piece of investigative journalism; to you — but not to your audience. Most of what’s published in this genre in Russian are thinly veiled, slanted opinion pieces masquerading as reporting. Your work, to a greater or lesser extent, will be read in the same vein.” muphta

“An Article Brings Sharp Response from Russians,”by Clifford J. Levy. New York Times, Monday February 25, 2008, p. A9.

Now a paper with this sort of porosity — this respect for readers and large subjects on which, yes, the readers know more even than Times reporters and editors — could be an altogether webby and worthwhile experience.

Related Content