The listicle as literature (?)

by David Alm January 21, 2014
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I am to the listicle what my parents were to the Beastie Boys. When I was 11 years old, in 1986, I thought the Beasties were the greatest musicians of all time, and yes, I was including Beethoven, the Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel in that valuation. My parents, meanwhile, laughed and rolled their eyes, […]

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In defense of unpaid internships

by David Alm October 24, 2013

In 1999, I published my very first article: a 400-word review of a book about Japanese art from 1615 to 1868. It was a catalogue for an exhibition that spring at Yale University, and I got the assignment not because I was an expert on Japanese art, or because I was a student at Yale, or […]

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An open letter to writers everywhere

by David Alm May 30, 2013

Dear friend, You know my pain, and that’s why I write to you now. You too have sat before a blank screen for hours, and hours, staring at a blinking cursor, feeling devoid of thought, frustrated, even depressed. Like me, you have never found the term ‘writer’s block’ satisfying. Writer’s block sounds like an acute […]

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Sweet vindication – thank you, Gawker

by David Alm May 16, 2013

Sometimes justice is served swiftly, sometimes not at all. And sometimes it takes 14 years, but when it’s finally served, it’s delicious. In an earlier life (i.e., my mid-20s), I was an aspiring arts journalist. And I did pretty well at it, for a kid from the Midwest who moved to New York with nothing […]

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If you’re not getting paid, should you still publish?

by David Alm March 25, 2013

Getting published has never been a bigger deal than it is now. I’m not talking about getting “published” online; I’m talking about an actual magazine or journal deeming your work worthy enough to spend time and money committing it to the printed page. This has never been easy, exactly, but now that print outlets are […]

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The (uncertain, post-apocalyptic, exciting) future of long-form journalism

by David Alm March 5, 2013

Writers can be gloomy folks — no news there. But these days, as everyone from David Carr on down to kids just starting J-school are pondering the future of long-form journalism, they’ve gotten even gloomier. And for good reason. As Max Linsky, a co-founder of the site, told an auditorium full of people at […]

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One adjunct’s rant, but not mine

by David Alm February 5, 2013

Every few months, someone posts a rant online detailing his or her outrage over the plight of adjunct academics. They can be compelling, but just as often, they’re not. They may even do harm. To wit: the latest such rant to land at my digital doorstep was this one about Karen Gregory, an adjunct instructor […]

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Can we love fiction once we’re no longer seeking answers?

by David Alm December 26, 2012

I once asked my father, who had majored in English, gotten his master’s degree in English, and for years had dreams of being a full professor of English before he decided (wisely) to pursue a more stable career instead, why he no longer read novels. I was in college at the time, and just discovering […]

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Learning to love non-fiction

by David Alm November 30, 2012

Last week, the New York Times published a piece on its website about the seemingly insurmountable challenge of teaching students how to write. The author, an English teacher, concludes not that students need to read more non-fiction (the vast majority of their high school curricula is already non-fiction), but better non-fiction. She cites the example […]

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Thinking inside the box

by David Alm November 20, 2012

One irony of modern life is that as technology makes more and more things possible, we often find ourselves working in tighter and tighter confines. This is especially true for writers. Where 10 years ago, a professional writer might have been working on a 2,000-word feature for one magazine, a 1,500-word review for another, and […]

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Writing and risk

by David Alm November 9, 2012

Writing ranks pretty low on the list of guaranteed paths to success — down there with sculpting and growing exotic plants. No one goes into it because it’s a sure thing. And I’m not just talking about being a novelist or writing for the New Yorker. Writing, like acting, can take many forms: you can […]

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The ironic death of postmodernism

by David Alm October 11, 2012

I am currently teaching a class at Hunter College titled Journalism & Society, which analyzes the impact of journalism on culture and vice versa. We discuss corporate consolidation, the so-called “independent media,” the real import of “fake” news, and the ultimately limited ability of any news organization to tell us everything we need to know. […]

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Is the Atlantic making itself go viral?

by David Alm September 24, 2012

About six years ago, I mentioned to someone that I’d just read an interesting article in the Atlantic that concerned whatever it was we were talking about at the time. She was a bit older than me, in her 40s, and visibly taken aback. “What are you doing reading the Atlantic?” she asked, as though […]

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Finding the slack in Malcolm Gladwell

by David Alm July 25, 2012

When you think of slackers, Malcolm Gladwell is probably not the first person to come to mind. He’s an enormously successful author who became a staff writer at the New Yorker when he was just 33. He’s at the apex of New York’s professional class, which has about as many slackers as Minnesota has surfers. […]

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Alienated content: the new model for “journalism”

by David Alm July 2, 2012

Ryan Smith has a degree in journalism and more than a dozen years’ experience writing for bona fide newspapers. That didn’t spare him his job, though, and like many of us with resumes replete with publications, advanced degrees, and the willingness to work for very little money, he recently found himself scrounging for editorial work. […]

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