Now Reading: War journalists, Oprah, Peyton Manning, Double Take

‘Now Reading’ is a collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics will include books, food, matters of culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.

Using war as cover to target journalists

David Carr of The New York Times writes on an important and harrowing topic: the increase in dead war correspondents across the Middle East. According to an International Press Institute report, 119 journalists have been killed this year. Becoming a casualty of war is a reality writers and broadcasters have faced since they began documenting battle, but there is a distinct difference between being killed in the field and being targeted in the field, and there is great fear the latter is happening more than ever in an attempt to control the information flow.

“The more important principle at work is whether governments in the Middle East and elsewhere will succeed in shaping or silencing different points of view by training missiles and bullets on journalists,” Carr writes. “If they do, the battle for the truth will disappear into the fog of war.”

Oprah at a crossroads

Oprah Winfrey is in the process of reimagining – and revitalizing – her magazine, “O,” after the product has seen approximately a 22 percent decrease in newsstand sales since her daytime talk show ended about 18 months ago. What’s interesting is the magazine isn’t a vanity play for Oprah or a product of the heart — she says she is not interested in “bleeding money” and that she would stop publishing a print magazine altogether if she can’t turn a profit (which doesn’t mean she’d stop publishing – it would just become an exclusively digital product). However, Oprah doesn’t express any desire to alter the message or vision of her magazine, which she wants to be about “fulfilling your destiny, who you’re meant to be, living your best life.”

To me, this seems like a conflict, because the stated goal of the reimagining of the magazine is to trend younger. I do think young people who are trying to grind out careers and personal lives and balance both want advice, but I’m not sure they want to purchase a magazine that drips with motherly tones. (I mean, it’s not a coincidence that successful magazines for this demographic prominently feature “What To Wear This Winter” and “Sex Secrets” features, right?) As a non-reader of “O,” I’m in no position to critique the product. And I wouldn’t bet against someone with a business mind as brilliant and hungry as Oprah’s (to say nothing of the brand value she has built). But it will be interesting to see what she does with her magazine. If there’s anyone who can overcome the frailties of the publishing industry, I’d think it’d be Oprah.

Peyton Manning’s road back to the top

Sam Farmer, an NFL columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a terrific piece on Peyton Manning last week and the quarterback’s ongoing recovery from neck surgery. I’m fascinated by Manning – one of the most interesting parts of the story, I thought, was the revelation that Manning takes notes … on everything. (There’s a hell of a book living somewhere deep in Manning’s copious notes.) Manning, if he wanted, would probably make a tremendous head coach someday, and I’m convinced much of that is his obsession with detail. His intellect and experience and work ethic and passion would all be crucial factors in his success as a coach, of course, but all great coaches seem to be consumed by detail. No detail is too small for Manning.

The debut of “Double Take”

The New Yorker launched “Double Take” last week, a blog devoted to the riches of the magazine’s archive and how they can be applied to add context and depth to current stories and events. It should be a wonderful resource. Here is a post from last week on some of the staff’s favorite profiles from the archive.

Email: tmitrosilis@gmail.com Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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