For those of you not across the controversy, New Yorker journalist Jonah Lehrer resigned as a staff writer for the magazine after it was revealed that he had fabricated a quote in his New York Times best-seller, Imagine: The Science of Creativity.
It took an investigation by one of his peers, former VICE editor and Wall Street Journal freelancer, Michael C Moynihan, whose expose in Tablet magazine led to Lehrer’s resignation.
In the very first chapter of the book, Lehrer creates, seemingly out of thin air, a narrative of Bob Dylan’s creative process which supported his theory that writers block was an inevitable part of inspiration and that the physiology of the brain’s make-up could almost predict this “frustration” like clockwork as an essential part of the creative process.
Latest 2 of 35 commentsView all comments
Much has been made of the demise of the mainstream media. Popular opinion would have us believe news journalism is a dying art as newspapers go digital. The future is a brave new world of citizen-journalism where bloggers will reign supreme. Just one problem - blogging and journalism are not the same thing.
It’s true, the world is changing and bloggers are rapidly growing in numbers. According to Wordpress, more than five million Australians have set up blogs. That’s one in four of us. Sure, both arts involve words, but comparing bloggers to journalists is like suggesting Rupert Murdoch is the next Stieg Larsson.
Blogging is a new form of media. Just seven percent of bloggers have more than five years experience according to The Truth about Blogging, a study undertaken by IMPACT Communications Australia to find out what makes bloggers tick.
Latest 2 of 75 commentsView all comments
Of all the parts within a book, the ending is most sacred.
For the reader it’s the ultimate reward for perseverance. A gift for linking the sub-plots, visualising the setting, believing in the characters and piecing it all together.
While for the writer, the ending of a book is consummate power. The end of months, even years of work, and surely the most satisfying part of the whole writing process.
Latest 2 of 53 commentsView all comments
When historians write about the National Year of Reading 2012, they will remember a time when the nation embraced the beauty of the book, spread the word about the benefits of reading, encouraged the pastime among children… Oh, and binned the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.
Campbell Newman is fast turning me into Jerry Seinfeld. And if this act of aggression towards the arts is an indication of the LNP’s stance on the importance of culture in Queensland (now the only state in Australia without a state-sponsored literary prize) then his tenure as Premier will be characterised by the same catchphrase as Seinfeld, by me at least.
Latest 2 of 159 commentsView all comments
Literacy is a right to which every Australian child is entitled, so it’s pertinent to consider on International Literacy Day (today, September 8) why some Australian students are still failing to achieve a minimum standard of literacy.
A comparison of Australia’s performance against other OECD countries would appear to demonstrate that Australian students are on the whole performing well at school. However, a closer look reveals students from low-income families are tending to fall behind their peers.
A higher proportion of socio-economically disadvantaged students in Australia are failing to achieve minimum standards in reading, writing, spelling and grammar, with the result that by 15 years of age Australian students from the lowest socioeconomic group in Australia are in general performing almost three years below that of students from the highest socio-economic group in reading.
Latest 2 of 121 commentsView all comments
I’m writing this with voice recognition software. If that sounds scintillating and newfangled, you’ve obviously never used what should more accurately be described as voice mutilating software.
I’ll go into more detail in a minute, but, in the meantime, here are just three of the versions of the first sentence of this column offered by my voice murdering software:
1. To running splits recognition software.
2. But wearing this voice which uses raft snares.
3. List softly, Felicity, poignantly stealthily and a half.
Latest 2 of 8 commentsView all comments
Looking for love? You’d know, then, that most people have a subconscious list of attributes that his or her ideal partner must possess: ‘Must be tall’, maybe. ‘Good looking’. ‘Generous’. ‘Noble of spirit’. ‘Kind to puppies’. Some people’s lists are flexible. Most aren’t. It’s tough out there.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s a new one: ‘Must be able to write’.
In an era where so much of our communication happens via the written word, writing has become as much if not more of an aphrodisiac than a fat bank balance or supermodel measurements.
Latest 2 of 59 commentsView all comments
Is Flying High the funniest movie ever made?
This month the comedy classic Flying High (aka Airplane!) celebrated its 30th anniversary – and I’m pretty much certain it is still the funniest movie of all time.
No other film comes close to the sheer number of jokes packed into a trouser-dampening 88 minutes, so many quotable lines and visual gags that simply refuse to age like almost every other comedy.
Latest 2 of 172 commentsView all comments
They come from far, they come from wide. They come with a fire in their bellies and a penchant for the written word that not even a million monkeys on a million typewriters could even dream of topping no matter how many sonnets they secured or peanuts they procured with their feverish and dexterous opposable thumbs. They are, of course, and without a shadow of a flickering doubt - bad writers.
The bad writer is a mystery for the ages. A mystery, wrapped in a riddle, snug as a bug in a tightly woven and off-white or eggshell coloured woollen rug.
The fact remains that since man has walked the earth since time immemorial, our command of language above all is what has set man apart from beast; what has separated the men from the boys (by men I of course mean men, and by boys I mean animals).
Latest 2 of 124 commentsView all comments
Do any of you really care less about what the media thinks about itself? To all the philosophers out there, yes, I get there’s an infinite regress being set up here. I am, after all, in the media talking about the media talking about itself. But forget that for a moment and answer the question. I bet for most of you it’s no. But gauging from the readers’ commentariat of many online publications, for a small, but significant minority of media audiences, it’s a big yes.
What I want to know is: how did such a tedious trend take off? When did the media become obsessed with itself? And, more importantly, when did readers start to mirror this obsession?
Admittedly, I didn’t spend too much time researching the historical roots of this phenomenon. But I have a feeling that although it’s always been around, the media’s obsession with itself, and your obsession with this obsession, really took off during what the media likes to call the ‘Culture Wars’. I’m pretty sure I heard someone at a dinner party crammed with smug lefties say quite authoritatively that the phenomenon had something to do with the rise of a political movement called ‘neo-conservatism’ and the neo-cons’ need for an enemy against which they could define themselves.
Latest 2 of 62 commentsView all comments
I probably know as much as anyone reading these words about the life of William Shakespeare.
That’s not the boast it sounds like – it’s a statement about how little there is to know about the biographical details of the greatest writer in the language.
He died nearly four hundred years ago, and he’s been celebrated for at least three hundred, but the documentary discoveries about Shakespeare have been few and far between.
Latest 2 of 13 commentsView all comments
Note: This Well Readhead entry by Leigh serves as an introduction to the special one-off piece she has filed, which is published directly below.
I may be telepathic. I can foresee what will appear in this year’s Christmas Day package on the 7pm ABC news - a grab from the Catholic Archbishop, a grab from the Anglican archbishop, shots of the homeless being served lunch at a shelter, shots of kids unwrapping presents if the reporter’s lined up a family early.
There could well be vision from Bethlehem of a Nativity re-enactment. The Pope in St Peter’s Square obviously. If the journalist gets really lucky, there might be some quirky sidebar such as a surfing Santa or a dog that can bark jingle bells. And call me crazy, but I’m going to predict that on Christmas Eve on Channel Ten, the price of prawns will be skyrocketing.
Every journalist knows that there are certain stories that show up annually on the assignments board. They’re so formulaic, the packages are almost identical from year to year: Australia Day, Anzac Day, the Easter Show (cue reporter piece-to-camera on a sideshow ride) and New Year’s Eve (Sydney’s fireworks are always the best in the world).
Latest 2 of 4 commentsView all comments
A journalist has written a story complaining newspaper stories are too long.
He says people like their stories short. Punchy. That’s why newspapers are dying, he says. That’s why the internet is alive.
The story was written by Michael Kinsley. A columnist for The Atlantic. Mr Kinsley complains that a 1,456 word report in The New York Times, on Obama’s health reforms, was too long. Mr Kinsley’s article, complaining about journalistic “verbiage”, ran to 1,940 words.
Latest 2 of 30 commentsView all comments
Here’s a few things we learned this week: lip-synching and Kevin Rudd are predominately out, keeping university colleges safe is in and we’ve all got something to ask Tiger Woods.
A selection of some of the best writing from this week @ The Punch follow after the jump. And if you’re looking for something else to help pass the afternoon, watch the video above about a National Geographic photographer.
Latest 1 of 1 commentView all comments
Before Ben Cousins, there was Wayne Carey. The full forward from Wagga became the King of North Melbourne and the greatest train wreck of them all.
His legendary love of a bender – and a life without boundaries - culminated in a famous sex act somewhere between the tooth brush holder and the soap dish with his best mate’s wife.
Carey was the perfect example of a sports star whose self-loathing only increased the more the public fell in love with him. I don’t know if he’s ever met Andrew Johns, but you’d imagine they would have plenty to talk about.
Latest 2 of 44 commentsView all comments
A few highlights from Punch staff and contributors are over the jump. For a bit of fun, check out the #medievalbumperstickers thread on Twitter from today. And here’s a video that’s worth another look.
One reader insight from this week is from Punch regular Zeta, with a considered position on asylum seekers (also over the jump). Have a great weekend.
Is there any way I could convince you to read aloud in public from a diary you kept when you were fourteen?
A group called Cringe is encouraging people to do just that. Its founder, a blogger named Sarah Brown, started Cringe in a Brooklyn bar in 2005 and it’s since spread to London. Members of the group get together and read aloud from things they wrote as teenagers – diaries, poems, letters, songs, plays, you name it.
Sarah Brown has turned the best – or perhaps the worst – of the material into a book.
Latest 2 of 15 commentsView all comments
‘Do not start me on The Da Vinci Code. A novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name’. That’s how Salman Rushdie described Dan Brown’s 2003 blockbuster in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World in 2005.
Rushdie isn’t alone in his unflattering assessment of Dan Brown’s writing. More recently, professor of linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, Geoffrey Pullum told the Daily Telegraph that ‘Brown’s writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad’.
And Pullum isn’t just being a high-minded literary snob, either; the professor has a point. To illustrate his case, Pullum cites a passage from Angels and Demons in which the lead female character hears about the death of her scientist father. ‘Genius, she thought. My father . . . Dad. Dead’ writes Brown.
Latest 2 of 16 commentsView all comments
I admit it: I’m in danger of being a language bore.
I’m that guy who, when you say you’re ‘honing in’ on something, asks derisively if you’ve ever heard of a honing pigeon or a honing missile.
If you call me a ‘font of information’, I’m liable to take offence on the grounds that a font is a shallow bowl used for church christenings, and I’d rather be a fount, thank you.
Latest 2 of 50 commentsView all comments
Recently, an oily looking salesman in a shopping mall unexpectedly grabbed my hand and starting rubbing some cream into it.
He had a mono brow and a lank, black ponytail at the nape of his neck.
‘Oh, very dry hands,’ he declared triumphantly as he massaged in the cream.
Latest 2 of 23 commentsView all comments
Julie and Poh know what to do with century eggs, tempered chocolate and rabbit hindquarters, but even they might struggle with these ingredients: 1 x 425g tin of crushed pineapple, 1 cup of coconut and 1 x 250g container of sour cream.
Do you know what it makes? Here’s a hint: ‘Mix together and leave for a couple of hours. Serve on lettuce leaves.’
If you answered ‘Pineapple Salad’, then perhaps your childhood, like mine, included neighbourhood pool parties at which the adults downed shandies and Coolabah cask wine while nibbling on devils-on-horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon).
Gen Y may garner more column inches than Sarah Palin, the GFC, and Madonna’s immobile forehead combined but they are the generation we love to hate the most, (myself included and I was unfortunately born smack bang in the middle of Y-dom), so I’m starting to wonder why our media landscape is bereft of any aggressive, arrogant scribes south of 30?
It’s not that I think we have anything particularly interesting or even fleetingly insightful or intelligent to offer on politics, popular culture or Paul Keating, but each generation before us has thrown up someone to wildly wave the banner of youth while trying not to choke on their own vomit.
Our papers are missing a trying-very-hard-to-be-controversial-and-on-the-edge ‘Youth’ columnist, chock full of the insouciance, arrogance and ignorance that comes from being part of a generation that can barely remember a time when casting a vote didn’t involve SMS. What they need is a Hip Young Thing, someone who can knock out a few wry paragraphs about blow jobs and recreational drug use, making a name for themselves with their frequent use of the word ‘f**k’ and poor grammar and syntax.
Latest 2 of 68 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…