Friday, October 30, 2009

Bram Reichbaum of the Pittsburgh Comet has announced his retirement

Bram Reichbaum of the Pittsburgh Comet has announced his retirement: "It is the policy of the Examiner and most news outlets to never speak in the authors actual voice. I break this rule only when necessary, and this is one of those times.

I'm quoted in the article too.


Anonymous said...

full article:

It is the policy of the Examiner and most news outlets to never speak in the authors actual voice. I break this rule only when necessary, and this is one of those times.

Bram Reichbaum is retiring his blog the Pittsburgh Comet.

I have not been reading the Pittsburgh Comet long. All I can say reliably of it is that it covered topics I have been very interested in. In its absence, I will be forced to pay even closer attention myself to the endless stream of missed stories that slip through the PPG's fingers (I barely even acknowledge the Trib anymore). Reichbaum was contacted with the leaked emails regarding Ravenstahl creature Pat Ford, and did a very quality write-up on the Zappala family. There are probably other memorable stories, but I leave it to Reichbaum himself to list them.

Bram's retirement comes as a product of frustrations with the modern media world are summarized below in his own words:

If you desire people to pay attention, somebody has to grab them by the lapels and make them pay attention. Somebody has to work hard day in and day out to build an audience that does not exist yet but can so very easily exist because we see these audiences elsewhere, and inform them of important matters with all the bells and alarms and activity with which we are accustomed to receiving our important information.

Reichbaum still has an essentially idealized view of media's capacity. It's a common mania of the writer, the obsession with those perfect few words that will make EVERYONE suddenly get it. I have that problem. Every writer worth their salt does. It's the sort of obligatory professional madness that defines a life's duty, like nurturing in mothers and control addiction in policemen.

That said, any working understanding of communications pretty much puts this one out to pasture. There is no all-penetrating revelation and there is no omni-communicative voice. This is the way of bombastic, omnipotent monotheistic gods, with arsenals of unbeatable, pervasive influence. For us, we have the human brain, human language, and the various modifiers applied through use of tech. It's a limitation we refine, encroach upon, but cannot completely override. This humility keeps you sane, the little cork at the back of your seething skull you pop to let out a bit of the extra steam.

Mark Rauterkraus (another prominent Pittsburgh blogger) has pointed out that the local indymedia has lost several people this year, owing in part to the sort of frustration that Reichbaum refers to.

Pittsburgh has had a rash of lightweight retirements and too many crow about un-engaged voters. Heavy. so don't go to the dark side of being un-engaged, as in retirement. Just lighten up. Tweet into the sunset.

Reichbaum's problem is that he loves Pittsburgh. This never works. You can't love a place and report on it, because you're always expecting it to love you back (read that as change in response to what you've written). You want something for your investment. You feel a potential for something more, like with a lover. It inevitably disappoints you when it takes more than it gives. It always does, though.

Anonymous said...

part 2:

Journalism is not that kind of relationship. It's not like marriage. It's kind of like being divorced, actually. You only speak to one another for the sake of the children, taxing to the point of death though it is. You complain, but you do because there is no option but the abhorrent action of not doing. It's not abstract, either. You do because you have done, and thereafter you know whenever you sit down and do something other than work, you're missing something. Something, somewhere in the city, should have you there watching it, monitoring it. You hate that thing, but the greater hate is knowing that the PPG write-up will be no substitute for your own.

This is not a take-down of Reichbaum, who I have never met and never spoken to. This is to me, public thinking, an editorial on method to give you, my readers, an idea where I'm coming from and going. Because we're one fewer as of January 22nd 2010. His issue and mindset was mine not long ago, and it readily could be again. This is recognition, the best I can manage, for one who has tried, and maybe will continue to. Media is the act of being the messenger, delivering the mail after finding it, writing it, and then often watching it be used to line a bird cage. It's at best like being the mambo ridden by some obscure Vodoun loa called the truth.