In all the times that this columnist traded words with Andy Warhol, the celebrity artist never managed to work his prediction that everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes into the conversation. After reading the New York Times Sunday edition for March, 13, 2011, we were appalled to realize that an irrelevant tidbit of information about conversations with Warhol might be a better way to start a column than mentioning the work done by the support group which helps the parents of murdered children cope, which we learned about while chatting with a fellow passenger on the Amtrak taking us back to Berkeley from Los Angeles.
In that day's edition of the paper, the magazine section contained an article by Bill Keller that attempted to answer the question: "How much more of itself can the media consume?" He reports a relevant encounter with Arianna Huffinton and then succinctly encapsulates the challenge facing news aggregator sites: "They seem to have realized that if everybody is an aggregator nobody will be left to make real stuff to aggregate." Do you think that the fact that writers are on strike against Huffington might be a "checkmate" bit of relevant evidence for his contention?
No use stepping on her toes if their paths will (inevitably) cross again at another future of journalism seminar.
That epitomizes the Catch-22 limitations of Celebrity Gossip Journalism. If you piss-off the celebrities you will be ostracized and be cut off from all possible content without access to the views, quips, and insider information that comes with belonging to the In crowd. If you go along to get along, your supply of material will be unlimited.
The In Crowd isolates itself from the real world and hence looses touch with the reality of the working class world.
While on the aforementioned train ride we chatted with a student at Fresno who was going home for a weekend of mom's good home cooking. Since it was a chance to get a random sample of what the college students are thinking these days, we asked him if he thought George W. Bush was a war criminal. He couldn't say one way or the other. He wanted a career in criminology and he had no opinion on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or the use of torture. We know we have the raw material starting point for a good trend-spotting column, which we may have to talk to some more college students to get a better basis regarding the trend or statistical aberration aspect of the conversation with the Fresno student. (Name dropping tidbit. This columnist saw the Jefferson Airplane perform in Fresno . . . a while ago.)
In the New York Times' Op Ed area for March 13, 2011, we enjoyed Frank Rich's piece titled "Confessions of a Recovering Op-Ed Columnist." His anecdote about how, as a teenager, he had his first encounter with Walter Lippmann might be a useful tidbit to have ready to use when we do our annual National Columnist Day installment, honoring the memory of Ernie Pyle, when April xx approaches.
The folks at the NSNC organization might want to use the Book Section's essay by Anthony Gottlieb, essentially inferring that Michel de Montaigne should be considered the patron saint of bloggers as a basis for voting Montaingne as the inspiration for nominating him to be the patron saint of columnists.