More is written than read
I used to listen to graduate students in the writing program at Syracuse bewail the Poetry Crisis — that more people appeared to be writing and publishing poetry than were reading it. Thirty years later, that looks to be still the case.
The poets, of course, have only themselves to blame. Many of them embraced the tenets of high Modernism, that poetry was to be written for a sophisticated elite, and the broader audience wandered off. Poetry that has to be learned to be appreciated is like a properly constructed martini: a minority taste.
It’s not just the poets who are manufacturing more than is consumed. So are journalists — and let’s not even mention bloggers.
At newspapers with a unionized work force, reporters typically have the right to withhold their bylines from articles. That give rise to the occasional byline strike, by which reporters bring management to its knees by withholding their names from their stories. You see, they imagine, bless their hearts, that readers pay attention to bylines.
It’s increasingly apparent that in addition to bylines, readers don’t pay much attention to stories. Newspapers can analyze readers’ behavior with the online product, discovering which stories readers look at and how long they spend with them, an analysis that would be humbling to many writers. It’s probably not much different for readers of the print product. suspect that the headlines written by my colleagues on the copy desk are frequently the only part of the stories that the audience actually reads before passing on.
Not long ago, The Sun incorporated the Sunday comic strips into the TV book, announcing this prominently Inevitably, readers called the newsroom wondering what had happened to the comics. In some cases, the persons taking the calls couldn’t answer. It’s discouraging to learn that the subscribers don’t pay much attention to the paper; it’s embarrassing to discover that the staff doesn’t, either.
But if you are a regular reader of this blog, it is manifest that you are a person of high intelligence and discerning taste.