There’s nothing the entertainment business prizes more than achieving the proverbial “smooth” or “seamless” transition whenever a change occurs – whether it be an executive pas de deux at the top of a studio, a switch of directors on a picture or the recasting of the love interest in a pilot.
The dawn of this electronic space represents a huge transition for me, and it is one that is unlikely to be smooth or seamless. With this column, er, post, I’m venturing into the melee of the blog-o-sphere. Frankly, it’s going to be on-the-job training for a while as I adjust to the demands of being an information provider and aggregator for the always-on Internet era.
The launch of Cynthia Littleton On the Air is (hopefully) a grand experiment for Variety as we try to figure out what readers want from us at a time of great upheaval for traditional journalism. Variety’s never been accused of being wedded to tradition – not with our headlines – but even for the paper that has helped showbiz navigate the twists and turns of the past century, the pace of change these days is dizzying.
I’m not ashamed to admit to being an ink-stained Luddite, one who came of age in the years just before the Macintosh com-puter, email and Google changed our world forever. I can still barely work my Blackberry. I had to get tough the last time I bought a cell phone to convince the sales clerk that I didn’t need photo and web-browsing functions, just voice mail and call waiting, thanks. I remember when high-tech for journalists was working on boxy computers with ominous gray-black screens and a lime-green type face with a rectangular blinking cursor that moved at a snail’s pace. At the first Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony I covered, the modem I used to file was the size of a hardcover book.
But I’m not in denial. I’m awestruck by power inherent in the immediacy and interactivity of online news and information. There’s a rush to it that is invigorating. Like most journalists of a certain age, I still have a bias toward perfecting stories for “the book” in the face of a deadline that always seems to come about a half-hour too soon. But during the past five years or so, my instincts have adapted to thinking of Web first for breaking news, and how to capitalize on the uniqueness of the Web platform with extra elements for news and feature stories.
So with this blog I’m hoping to become that much more hip to the new breed thing. I intend for On the Air to be a mix of news headlines with an interpretive spin – sometimes sassy, sometimes cheeky, sometimes analytical – and original reporting by myself and some of my colleagues in the Variety newsroom. The limitless column inches available on the Web allows me to indulge in my favorite perk of the job, which is the chance to talk shop with interesting, creative, provocative people working in this most dynamic of industries.