Dominick Dunne leaves his mark

Vanity Fair, the publication with which he had a 25 year association beginning in  1984 until his death on Wednesday, referred to Dominick Dunne in memorializing him as “our dearly departed diarist”.  Noted communicators contribute in many  genres and Dunne was the past master at his, chronicling the rich and infamous.  In Letter from Los Angeles, L.A. in the Age of O.J.  published in Vanity Fair in February 1995 as Dunne covered the O.J. Simpson Trial he wrote: “The Simpson case is like a great trash novel come to life, a mammoth fireworks display of interracial marriage, love, lust, lies, hate, fame, wealth, beauty, obsession, spousal abuse, stalking, brokenhearted children, the bloodiest of bloody knife-slashing homicides, and all the justice that money can buy.” Dunne’s reportage was like a story that invariably was irresistible, not surprising for a writer who had five bestselling novels.

He started his career in New York City as stage  manager for The Howdy Doody Show and in 1957 moved to Hollywood where he produced both television and feature films, all experiences which one senses played a part in developing his approach to writing. When life in the fast lane (in the form of substance abuse) caught up with him he took himself in hand and into seclusion in Oregon and at the age of 50 began to reinvent himself as a writer.

His profiles of the likes of Imelda Marcos, Robert Mapplethorpe, Elizabeth Taylor, Adnan Khashoggi, and others are works of art in their own right.

To read some of Dunne’s best go to Vanity Fair’s Dominick Dunne Archive http://bit.ly/yMwu2

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/08/27/dominick-dunne-leaves-his-mark/

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Culture and communications

It has occurred to me that some visitors to this site may ask why there are posts covering the news of the day, matters involving politics, popular culture, etc? What is the relevance to a blog dedicated to communicators and communications? Before plunging ahead, let me assure you that this post is about as technical as this blog gets. One of the guiding principles for this blog is that: it shall be generally understandable to all who seek to gain from its information. This is carved in stone. So bear with me on this one, because in order to make the point, I have to get “technical”. Here goes. 

There is, first of all a hint in the name of the blog itself. “Communicators” are individuals who have messages to transmit in some way, through media, public speaking, and so forth. By and large I am using the term to refer to those who have a public presence in this regard, for example say, President Obama or Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (more to come on Mr. Geithner in a separate post).

Now one of the accepted definitions of “culture” is: “an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning” (taken from Wikipedia, keyword: “culture”). So “culture” and “communication” are inextricably connected.

In fact, the basic premise of the bestselling text MediaMaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture is that: “mass communication cannot be studied apart from the other institutions in society and the other dimensions of social life – each is shaping and defining the other.” (quoted from the Amazon.com editorial review of the book). My position is that this applies to communications in general, and this theory, if you will, is paramount to a basic understanding of communications overall. In every post, I endeavor to address the matter undertaken from a communications perspective.  That’s as it should be with a blog named “Communicators & Communications”. We now adjourn sine die.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/22/culture-and-communications/

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Blogs as today’s communication bargain

Over the past weekend a number of media sources – online and off – picked up on a story which I think may have originated in Chicago, my hometown, on Friday the thirteenth no less. We won’t call it “Black Friday” in this instance, instead we’ll call it “Red Hot” Friday. The basic point of all these pieces was that the hot dog is making a comeback in these hard times; it is construed as the “perfect recession food” Hot dog sales are “red hot” according to the site “Serious Eats” http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/03/the-hot-dog-as-perfect-recession-food.html#comments

Now I am a serious hot dog lover myself; the Mii on my Wii is “hotdogman” for goodness sakes. The buzz about the dog reminded me that this is the time of the little guy, the bargain. I pass up the fancy car wash with the waiting room sporting a flat panel TV in favor of one tied in with a gas station where I get pretty much the same hand wash for about half the price.

Blogs are in a way the bargains of today’s world of communications. The “hot dog article” posted at Chicago Public Radio http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=32792

references the opinion of Darren Tristano an executive vice president at Technomic Incorporated, a food industry research firm: “He says hotdog stands are set to capitalize on food trends-they’re cheap, the food is fresh, customizable, portable, and he says Chicago hot dogs taste really good. All of which makes them a strong contender for a great recession meal.” Just exchange the words “Chicago hot dogs” for the words “well prepared blogs” and I think you’ll see the attributes listed are comparable. The recipe for “well prepared blogs” will be given in a later post.

 

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/19/back-at-the-same-old-stand/

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A Jurassic Park kind of world

In many of today’s opinion pages, be they online or in print, readers were treated to a very insightful article by Kathleen Parker, titled “Weird new media world” in which, it seemed abundantly apparent to me, she was putting forth the premise that newspapers are a core communications vehicle of American society and conducted appropriately constitute the bedrock on which a free society is maintained. So granting necessary reshaping to conform to technological and cultural changes (I advisedly here avoid the term “advances” to describe such changes) the medium is important to retain. In her own words:

“Whatever business models emerge…newspapers have to focus on their traditional core of fact-based, serious reporting. We might add to that formula the need for a serious populace informed about the fragile thread that connects a free press to a free future. “

A number of considerations emerge from careful reading of her piece. Yes, I don’t have much need for the TV guide section of my local paper now that I have a TV guide accessible on my TV; so newspapers need to define themselves based on their “root” purpose to borrow a term from the computer age. A “root” directory in computer file systems is the first or top-most directory in a hierarchy. It can be likened to the root of a tree – the starting point where all branches originate. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia). This is basic Marketing 101 of course. Amtrak isn’t in the business of running trains, they’re in the business of transportation. Find the “root” and stick to it she seems to be urging, and keep a first amendment bulwark in place in the bargain.

What is fascinating, is the “spin” this gets in the “comment room”; I just checked out one: http://townhall.com/columnists/KathleenParker/2009/03/15/weird_new_media_world?page=2 and the majority of comments at this site are made by fire breathing persons who seem to have read only one word of her article, that word appearing as the last word of the article’s third paragraph and spelled b-i-a-s, “bias”. But the real bias, as I see it, is on the part of the commenters; which leads me to the book True Enough by Farhad Manjoo. The Publishers Weekly review of the book puts it this way: “Salon blogger Manjoo…in his perceptive analysis of the status of truth in the digital age, critiquing a Rashomon-like world in which competing versions of truth vie for our attention.” The book deserves more attention in a separate post, and the book deserves our attention in general because it presents a pretty disquieting picture of our future as a society of many different groups of “Dittoheads” as referenced in paragraph two of Parker’s article!

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/03/16/a-jurassic-park-kind-of-world/

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Paul Harvey, media icon

This blog comes to life at the same time as the death of an American communications icon. Paul Harvey has died.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/28/paul-harvey-dies-aged-90_n_170807.html

I am saddened. Another American Voice/Voice of America has been taken from us. His dulcet tones invoking “the rest of the story” ring in my ears. He was an innovative pioneer of what in retrospect presages the blog – as podcast, but broadcast over the radio airwaves, the established media of the day. Politically I might not always have concurred with his thinking, but his manner of presentation, his style, his ability to succinctly communicate ideas needs to be studied and emulated.

https://communicatorsandcommunications.com/2009/02/28/paul-harvey-media-icon/

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