The swan song for traditional media is as incessant as it is unquestioned. Don’t tell that to San Francisco’s Dave Eggers or Liberia’s Alfred Sirleaf. In radically different ways, under radically different conditions, they both open a space for the newspaper’s relevance in a landscape of navel-gazing corporate media non-stop blather-a-thon (oh, and blogs, let’s not forget blogorrhea).
Today, the Dave Eggers/McSweeney’s empire launched The Panorama, a one-time broadsheet to end all broadsheets. Or rather, to not end all broadsheets. In love with newspapers, Eggers and crew set out to exploit the format to its fullest: do what you can’t do on the internet. Go big or go home. Fill it with the best writing and design. Make it brilliant. Make it interesting. Prove that a broadsheet rocks.
Not a daily of course. Issue one (as in one and only) I’m told took nearly five months of planning and doing, using the who’s who of the literary and design worlds. But hey, if they drop it on my doorstep every morning for a quarter I’m pretty sure I’d never get anything done outside of reveling in it’s brilliance.
And to be completely fair to McSweeney’s, they stated from the start that the issue is just an experiment in what is possible and is listed as Issue 33 of their normal quarterly, which often takes on a theme and innovates with it. One can only hope some daily finds inspiration in their love note.
Currently, you can only get The Panorama in San Francisco, though you can see samples online here (irony noted).
As The Panorama notice hit my inbox, so did TMN’s Morning Report, which included an op-ed on newspapers: dead or alive?
Titled “The Fabulous Papers” it profiles the Bozeman Daily Chronicle as a kind of Cormac McCarthyesque Crime report, if His Terseness twittered.
What caught my attention was the following video, on the Daily Talk, a Liberian “news portal” that is a chalkboard set up in a town square. Editor/reporter/chalk calligrapher/production master Alfred Sirleaf uses a variety of interesting props to tell the day’s stories.
According to TMN, Sirleaf keeps the news flowing on a diet of loaned prepaid top up cell phone minutes and whatever cash he can scrounge. But he firmly squares with the third estate tradition, as that all important check on power. He was driven into exile by former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor. With Taylor’s demise, he’s back and maintains an estimated readership of 10,000 (all this according to TMN).