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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanks and thoughts

Snarling Jojo. Oil on canvas, 16x20, $150.
Not a new painting, but one of my favorites.


Hey! I asked friends to sign up to follow this blog, and you did! I really appreciate it.

Again, I don't begin to understand my need to know that people out there are reading it, but I feel that need, and knowing that there are six of you out there, following "The Accidental Artist" helps me know that I'm not writing simply to hear my own voice. Or, I guess, see my own words.

Most surprisingly, one of the followers is a total stranger. How cool is that!

So, thank you, all of you brave souls and wonderfully supportive people. I hope you read what I'm writing, and are moved by it - and comment on it. There's a place at the bottom of each post to add comments, to start a conversation. To engage.

Like it, hate it, love it, whatever - I track a lot of this back to my former boss and friend and mentor, the late Mike Levine, who pushed all of us at the Times Herald-Record to be engaging, to seek engagement with the audience, and to become engaged with our communities.

On that note, if you like what you read here, email it to your friends. There's a little button at the bottom of each post that lets you do that, too. Get them to participate, engage, write, comment, kibbitz, criticize, complain, whatever. I'm not looking for blue skies and rainbow only. I'm seeking honest writing, dialogue, opinions, spice.

I'm seeking what used to be the best part of working in newspapers, in a day and a mindset that, alas, is long, long gone.

These days, when it comes to newspapers, I see a general and appalling lack of engagement. All over the place, I see stories that are poorly conceived, badly written and thinly presented. No one reaches out to help readers who haven't followed the ins and outs of the tale, or to entice those who might - with the right invitation - become interested.

Writers and editors don't take the time - or, probably, simply can't take the time - to develop voice, tone, rhythm, internal tension, the sense of unfolding. Questions of impact and importance aren't even asked, let alone answered.

Right now, newspapers are doing precisely what they should not be doing, if they hope to stay in business and attract readership and advertising. They need to be more interesting, not more homogeneous. They need to have more edges, not fewer. They need to write better, shorter, more local stories. And they need to reach out more than they ever have.

That's my rant. The weather in New York sent me back to Connecticut with only the three paintings of the Black Dirt. I have plenty to do here. But I'm hoping to get back to New York soon!

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