March 13, 2012
Alexis Madrigal Responds to Harper’s Publisher John MacArthur’s Screed Against Online Journalism

Long before I wrote stories for magazines, I read a magazine called Harper’s. It was smart and weird and I felt like I found things there that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Wonderful editors worked for Harper’s like Clara Jeffery and Bill Wasik and Paul Ford. They brought thinkers like the now-famous David Graeber to my attention years before anybody else. Dining in fluorescent-lit discomfort with my scrappy friends, we wondered why such a wonderful place refused to be a part of what we knew to be the flourishing intellectual domain known as The Internet. Now, thanks to a curmudgeonly op-ed from Harper’s publisher John MacArthur, we know why: one time, when he and Lewis Lapham were dining in San Francisco near the height of the Internet bubble, someone used a word (platform) to describe something he didn’t understand, and he’s been deadset against such “Internet con men” ever since. 
So, Jeffery left to run Mother Jones, which has used digital savvy to put itself back near the heart of the nation’s political conversations, and Wasik now works for Wired. Paul Ford makes things on the Internet and writes beautiful pieces about technology. And Harper’s, well, they steadfastly refused to put their stories on the Internet, despite the “young people” who tried in vain to change their publisher’s heart. “The Internet, I told them, wasn’t much more than a gigantic Xerox machine,” he brags. (The Xerox machine, I would tell him, wasn’t much more than a fast printing press.) […]
I do respect one thing about MacArthur’s op-ed: he does truly value writers and their writing. We agree there. But it is *precisely* because I value my writing that I want it to be online and free. I don’t write merely to rub two pennies together; I write because I want to have an impact in the world. I want to work with my community to break stories and tell jokes, to highlight injustice and find better ways of solving problems. That means reaching readers where they are. People’s lives aren’t divided into “offline life” and “online life,” even if we’d like to pretend that’s the case. People on Capitol Hill use the Internet. People on Main Street use the Internet. People on Wall Street use the Internet. The Internet is where the action is: it’s where all the elegant, dirty, pretty, lowbrow, brilliant ideas come together to commingle and evolve. 
Read more.

Alexis Madrigal Responds to Harper’s Publisher John MacArthur’s Screed Against Online Journalism

Long before I wrote stories for magazines, I read a magazine called Harper’s. It was smart and weird and I felt like I found things there that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Wonderful editors worked for Harper’s like Clara Jeffery and Bill Wasik and Paul Ford. They brought thinkers like the now-famous David Graeber to my attention years before anybody else. 

Dining in fluorescent-lit discomfort with my scrappy friends, we wondered why such a wonderful place refused to be a part of what we knew to be the flourishing intellectual domain known as The Internet. Now, thanks to a curmudgeonly op-ed from Harper’s publisher John MacArthur, we know why: one time, when he and Lewis Lapham were dining in San Francisco near the height of the Internet bubble, someone used a word (platform) to describe something he didn’t understand, and he’s been deadset against such “Internet con men” ever since. 

So, Jeffery left to run Mother Jones, which has used digital savvy to put itself back near the heart of the nation’s political conversations, and Wasik now works for WiredPaul Ford makes things on the Internet and writes beautiful pieces about technology. And Harper’s, well, they steadfastly refused to put their stories on the Internet, despite the “young people” who tried in vain to change their publisher’s heart. “The Internet, I told them, wasn’t much more than a gigantic Xerox machine,” he brags. (The Xerox machine, I would tell him, wasn’t much more than a fast printing press.) […]

I do respect one thing about MacArthur’s op-ed: he does truly value writers and their writing. We agree there. But it is *precisely* because I value my writing that I want it to be online and free. I don’t write merely to rub two pennies together; I write because I want to have an impact in the world. I want to work with my community to break stories and tell jokes, to highlight injustice and find better ways of solving problems. That means reaching readers where they are. People’s lives aren’t divided into “offline life” and “online life,” even if we’d like to pretend that’s the case. People on Capitol Hill use the Internet. People on Main Street use the Internet. People on Wall Street use the Internet. The Internet is where the action is: it’s where all the elegant, dirty, pretty, lowbrow, brilliant ideas come together to commingle and evolve. 

Read more.

4:27pm
  
Filed under: Tech Journalism Internet Longreads 
  1. tikistitch reblogged this from senoritafish
  2. thisworldofwoe reblogged this from theatlantic
  3. senoritafish reblogged this from jasonweinberger
  4. pablojavier reblogged this from jasonweinberger
  5. jasonweinberger reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. wizardblue reblogged this from theatlantic
  7. anikamyerspalm reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. thenelsontwins reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    My favorite magazine is old school.
  9. cbfbg reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    right on the money
  10. nusca reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. idyllgossip reblogged this from theatlantic
  12. luckyducky reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. papergotback reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. ljdigital reblogged this from theatlantic
  15. singulus reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    'On Interactivity & Persuasion … "There is something about Online Relationships which leads some to insist that there is...