Brown urges writers 'don't follow the pack'

Brown: liberated by Times column

Tina Brown, founding editor of the now defunct Talk magazine, has urged journalists to write for the web rather than print and accused foreign correspondents of spending too much time in the bar.

Her comments appear in an interview with US magazine Earthtimes. Referring to the internet, she said: "I think that a voice can be developed there. I think the important thing is to not be following the pack in terms of opinions and subject matter. Nothing is better for a young journalist than to go and write about something that other people don’t know about.

"If you can afford to send yourself to some foreign part, I still think that is by far the best way to break in as a real reporter."

Brown claimed there was too much "snide, attitude and non-reporting", adding: "A thumb-sucker is not enough in this competitive world. It’s important to base it on something that your eyes have seen."

Criticising some foreign correspondents, she said: "The worst thing is this pack attitude. It’s just how stale so much foreign reporting is, rewritten stuff coming out of wires and already reported material. One of the things I find most ridiculous is that all the foreign journalists stay together and all hang out at the bar together and all write something similar.

"The best ones get out, of course. But there is an awful lot of hanging out in the bar with your own colleagues."

Brown said she found her new column in The Times "very liberating".

She also claimed the "fun" was missing from high-powered journalism and suggested it is often confused with irresponsibility and "trashiness".

"I’m trying in the column to be entertaining without being mean," she said.

"It’s almost as if, in America, the mixture of high and low has still not really been integrated in quite the same way that it has in Europe. The London Times can have material in it that The New York Times would not have – and nobody feels threatened by that."

Brown said The New Yorker, which she edited, put on 250,000 sales, "not by being more frivolous" but by taking a fresher approach to serious issues. "At Talk, it was very demoralising at times to have so much good journalism that I could and wanted to publish and, at the same time, feel the pressure to put it into a kind of celebrity-packaged thing to make the news-stand sales that the business plan needed."

She branded the current obsession with celebrities "tiresome", but said publishers do not have the patience or money to spend on a serious reading audience.

By Ruth Addicott

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