TechCrunch “The Morality and Effectiveness of Process Journalism”.
And the referenced article “Product v. Process journalism: The myth of perfection v. Beta culture” by Jeff Jarvis
Jackson Pollock - Springs, NY
I’d like to discuss Blogging journalists in the context of American artists who have long struggled with the concepts of content and form, and through the spectrum of product to process. American artists grappled with formal issues as a young nation who wanted to forgo the reins of Europe and forge a new art akin to the American experience.
Then, let’s jump back to mid-twentieth century and the the visual artist Jackson Pollock. His paintings were considered indecipherable because they were not about something per se but about the process of the artist grappling with his material. Whatever the truth is, the subject matter was the artist, Pollock himself, physically involved with the material (paint, brushes, tubes and canvas).
The resultant image provides us an absence of traditional depth – a flattened playing field on which the process itself has become the product – the subject designing infinitely within the borders of the canvas. Design is the word and the work.
How about the poet?
Let’s look at a passage from Frank O’Hara’s ‘Personism, A manifesto’:
Everything is in the poems, but at the risk of sounding like the poor wealthy man’s Allen Ginsberg I will write to you because I just heard that one of my fellow poets thinks that a poem of mine that can’t be got at one reading is because I was confused too. Now, come on. I don’t believe in god, so I don’t have to make elaborately sounded structures. I hate Vachel Lindsay, always have, I don’t even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, “Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.”
Notice O’Hara says “Everything is in the poems” yet the what that is in the poems isn’t truth. It’s everything. Without form (or so he says) but given a kind of form via his idea (not philosophy of but idea) of Personism. The documentation of an utterance that may or may not be true in the next minute
Pollock reduces the 3 dimensional field to a design, O’Hara reduces the artistic vision to ‘Personism’
What does this have to do with the news?
What do Pollock and O’Hara have to do with the news? Isn’t that, the news, a statement of fact? Not an artistic statement?
Backtrack again. News & the influence of technology.
Technology wasn’t new in it’s influences on the arts. Think about the change from the camera in the 19th century to the projector in the 20th. The camera framed objects, alluded to three dimensions, stilled time. The projector blasted synthesis – one frame negating another and at eye blinking speed. We may think of blogging as the result of another technological frontier not unlike the camera and the projector.
A newspaper by its very nature stills time; states the fact wrapped in the eternity of print – it is a moment of truth stilled. A blog is more akin to the projector: the movement itself. Recording the changes of truth over time. Revisionist, processing, excluding and incorporating.
But what of the truth the blog seeks? In art that truth is the thing that is coming into being, it is intertwined with the perceivor.
When we discuss in blogs the movement from rumor to not rumor,when one moment’s truth collides with the next, what is the truth? Where does it end? When does it become fact?
If the truth must be corrected – wouldn’t the truth finally have to be the sum total of process AND product? Shouldn’t it be a document of changes which tells the truth about editing, as well as about the information being edited? And wouldn’t it imply information is only momentarily true. That the end of a story doesn’t have to do with truth it has to do with interest or the loss thereof?
Art is destroyed by chaos and chaos is random. Pure process art is, in the end, a slight of hand. An optical illusion. It is, despite itself, art. A poetic gesture is you will. (More ruminating later)
But journalism? Is it about the artist or about the facts? And how can there be facts if the facts change? We don’t want the journalist to be a slight of hand man. Yet blogging real time makes that so. Different from newspaper news. So shouldn’t the document be different?
Should not the process of accruing information then be documented ?
And what of the viewer of art. Of Pollock’s work. The reader of O’Hara’s work. Is it reasonable to bring into the mix his or her assumptions as to what art is? Or should be? Then what of the online reader of news. To what extent can he or she expect fact? When fact is changing?
Writers and visual artists use their forms to teach the what and the how. Would that step be unlikely in a journalism blog? Wouldn’t the inclusion of not errata but updates remind the reader that what he or she is reading is not permanent. That what one read 5 minutes back may have changed?
The question would be, then, how to document change. How to know the difference between errata and update, and how to inform despite the changing nature of fact.