Prufrock's Page

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Lonely Journalist

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Robert Kaplan urges reporters to travel to discover the pleasure of finding things out first-hand: "Journalism desperately needs a return to terrain, to the kind of firsthand, solitary discovery of local knowledge best associated with old-fashioned travel writing....Reporting emphasizes the intrusive, tape-recorded interview; travel writing emphasizes the art of good conversation, and the experience of how it comes about in the first place"

His hopeful and impassioned conclusion: "How will good reporting survive? Individual men and women will slip away from the crowd — away from the panels and seminars, the courses and conferences, away from the writers’ hangouts and e-mail networks — to cultivate loneliness. They will demand of themselves not to write a word about a place or a subject until they know it firsthand. And they will do this out of curiosity — for as the illusion of knowledge grows daily, the reality of places themselves becomes more of a mystery."


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