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You must read the great cover story in the March 2016 Atlantic written by James Fallows. Most Americans believe their country is going to hell, he writes. But after a three-year trip across the country in his single-prop plane, Fallows learned that what has been said about American decline is different that how it appears…

American Renewal

imageYou must read the great cover story in the March 2016 Atlantic written by James Fallows. Most Americans believe their country is going to hell, he writes. But after a three-year trip across the country in his single-prop plane, Fallows learned that what has been said about American decline is different that how it appears from our national dialogue:

“As a whole, the country may seem to be going to hell. That jeremiad view is a great constant through American history. The sentiment is predictably and particularly strong in a presidential-election year like this one, when the “out” party always has a reason to argue that things are bad and getting worse. And plenty of objective indicators of trouble, from stagnant median wages to drug epidemics in rural America to gun deaths inflicted by law-enforcement officers and civilians, support the dystopian case.

“But here is what I now know about America that I didn’t know when we started these travels, and that I think almost no one would infer from the normal diet of news coverage and political discourse. The discouraging parts of the San Bernardino story are exceptional—only five other U.S. cities are officially bankrupt—but the encouraging parts have resonance almost anywhere else you look ... What is true for this very hard-luck city prevails more generally: Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see.”

Posted by Joel on February 21 2016 • Current Affairs

The Life and Death and Life of Magazines

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Is this graph an accurate history of American magazine publishing? Has the Internet decimated the remains of our attention spans? That’s not exactly the case. Read The Life and Death and Life of Magazines, and learn how magazines have been dying since there have been magazines.

“Worse, we’re told that it has paradoxically fostered a new scourge for great magazine writing: more of it,” writes Evan Ratliff. “In just the last five years, web sites and magazines new and old—from Nautilus to BuzzFeed to Matter to The Atavist Magazine, which I edit—have added to an ambitious resurgence in long, serious magazine writing. While this might seem like a sign of life, critics have explained that in fact such efforts are diminishing this great craft. Terms like “longform” and #hashtags like #longreads—through which readers recommend work they appreciate to other potential readers—only serve to dilute what was once the purview of discriminating enthusiasts alone. “The problem,” Jonathan Mahler wrote in the New York Times in 2014, “is that long-form stories are too often celebrated simply because they exist.” It was bad enough when our capacity to produce and read great stories collapsed. Now it seems we’ve turned around and loved magazine writing to death.”

Posted by Joel on February 03 2016 • Journalism