In this week’s NY Magazine (which you really should check out regularly), there’s a short item about Gay Talese’s work on a documentary about . . . well, let me just run it here in its entirety:
Erstwhile Timesman Gay Talese, whose 1969 The Kingdom and the Power is a classic study of the paper, is back on the beat, working with fellow Times alum Arthur Gelb on a documentary about the paper’s struggles in the digital age. “It’s about why the Times is having difficulty attracting readers when in my opinion it’s still a very good paper, and about the difficulty of convincing young people to read it,” Talese said at the PEN gala April 28.
Is it because young people are reading the paper online? â€œWeâ€™re not interested in their Website,â€ he said. “We’re interested in our insights as veterans of old-fashioned journalism.” But does he read the Times site occasionally? “Never, and I never will,” he said. “I don’t even have a cell phone. I don’t deal with the technology. I don’t even know how to go into the Web. Maybe Gelb will do it. I insist on being with the people I’m writing about.”
Now, I can understand an old coot of a writer not dealing with the internet, but I’m not sure how many of them decide to make a documentary that’s intrinsically about the internet and refuse to even engage it. How self-important do you have to be to go down that path?