NICOLE NAREA TABLE OF CONTENTS Digesting the News ………...1 The Silence of the Lambs …2 Use it or lose it………………..4 Substance Abuse………….. 5 The crushed ‘DREAM’………6 Missing a beat……………….7 The next chapter……………8 Rare Tolerance………………9 Fit to print……………………10
DIGESTING THE NEWS Date:
February 17, 2011 in The Greenwich Post
ecently, Julian Assange invited me to a However, this is based on the false pretense that dinner party. The menu? A hearty Assange is a journalist, when, in reality, he plays the portion of free expression generously role of a source. He is the equivalent of Watergate’s spiced with political intrigue. Had it not been a school Deep Throat… on steroids. night, I might have considered shedding my doIt is important to make this distinction gooding journalistic image to attend, joining the between journalism and news sources. In his role as a renegades at WikiLeaks for the festivities. Granted, in “source,” it was not Assange’s responsibility to verify my effort to impress you, I omitted the fact that the his information or determine whether or not its guest list was far from exclusive. In fact, the event release would act in the public interest. Furthermore, was called his “Dinner for Free Speech,” hosted by Internet media like Twitter and Facebook cannot be people all over the world who commenced dining at regarded as reliable journalism, though they are being 6:30 p.m. in a unified celebration of the importance of used as tools of live iReporting, managing as of late to free expression and WikiLeaks. even wobble autocrats. The job of a journalist is to While I myself did not host a dinner, I found utilize those resources available to us through the the concept of the evening intriguing. In spite of the Internet and handle them with responsibility. It was worldwide foreign policy crisis ultimately the ethical dilemma of that erupted when the media the newspapers that partnered …SOCIETY MAY WELL organization released secret U.S. with WikiLeaks in releasing the diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks has cables, such as The New York CONCLUDE THAT JOURNALISTS indeed made Julian Assange a Times and The Guardian, to ARE MOST VALUED NOT FOR figurehead of free speech. He determine whether or not it THEIR ABILITY TO BREAK NEWS, serves as an ugly reminder to would endanger the public good. the U.S. government that This is why I must believe BUT RATHER FOR THEIR independent media sources that journalism is not a dying ACUMEN TO BE ‘CURATORS OF remain the watchdogs and field, but rather a profession that INFORMATION.’ gadflies of society. is changing with the landscape. Though the arguably Born into an age when Google invasive 2001 Patriot Act may makes the world accessible to my have made it easier for the government to investigate fingertips, I often forget that I am, in fact, lucky to be private records and communications, Assange has entering the field of journalism at this crossroads. The resolved to turn the tables and give the government a Internet is forcing journalists to redefine their role in bitter taste of its own medicine. Secrecy is elusive in news reporting. It could give new meaning to the age of the Internet, even for the government of muckraking — sifting through endless “sources” the most powerful nation in the world. available online to aggregate and verify valuable Many agree that Julian Assange is a man of material — and ultimately determine whether or not influence — a whopping 89% of Time readers voted in reporting it is in the public’s good. In the end, society favor of electing him the magazine’s Person of the may well conclude that journalists are most valued Year in a December 2010 online poll. But the question not for their ability to break the news first but rather remains: Is he a hero or a villain? Voicing a common for their acumen to be the “curators of information.” critique of Assange in an interview on Fox Newswatch Simply not just to report — but rather verify, trust, Saturday, former New York Times writer Judith Miller analyze, and then and only then, report. deemed him a “bad journalist” because he failed to Now, back to dinner. So tell me, Mr. Assange, “verify the information that he was putting out or where did you ever find the ingredients for these determine whether or not it would hurt anyone.” delicious hors d’œuvres?
© Nicole Narea 2011
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Date: January 29, 2008 in the Greenwich Time National Gold Medal in Journalism – Scholastic Art & Writing Awards a 14-foot tiger shark suspended in a glass tank filled with formaldehyde. The current owner, Steven Cohen, bought the work in 2004 for $8 million from Saatchi. Cohen, a hedge-fund billionaire and art collector from Greenwich, has, in the same collection, a Picasso purchased for $25 million. It is perhaps puzzling to those outside the art world that a shark's dead body could possibly be worth one third of the price of a Picasso, a universally recognized artistic talent. Hirst seems to enjoy pushing the limits of what society and the art world will accept, as he teeters on the edge of avant-garde and tests the waters of recklessness. Art may be in the eye of the beholder, but is it possible that a shark carcass could not only be considered art, but also in the same league as a Picasso? Throughout the period of post-modern art, the question of "What is art?" has been raised countless times. It was raised when the world first saw a Jackson Pollock and an Andy Warhol, but, in the years following their debut, art critics and the general
IT IS PERHAPS PUZZLING TO THOSE OUTSIDE THE ART
WORLD THAT A SHARK’S DEAD BODY COULD POSSIBLY BE
recently visited the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut and roamed their halls of stuffed birds, mountain lions, and the like in their Changes in Our Land natural history exhibit, which was meant to educate on the subject of natural history from a more local perspective. Every few steps or so, I would pause to study the lifeless form of another dead animal and skim through the brief description on the plaque mounted on the wall. I then passed through the Eye Candy: Two Centuries of Chocolate Advertising exhibit or simply the "chocolate exhibit," as my little sister so fondly calls it, and into the hallway of contemporary art. There, I took a quick glance around and something caught my eye: the carcass of some unfortunate lamb floating in a tank of formaldehyde. I looked back at the stuffed animals in the natural history exhibit and wondered if somehow the curator had mistakenly placed this poor animal's carcass in the wrong section of the museum. What exactly is the difference between this sheep and the 2|P age taxidermies across the hall? Apparently, it's about $3.81 million, the most recent price of this particular sheep in the international art market. The creative force behind this floating sheep, entitled Away From the Flock, is the famed British contemporary artist, Damien Hirst. The 42 year-old Bristol native first gained recognition for his work in the late 1980s and early 1990s after graduating from Leeds College of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Once Hirst gained initial notoriety in the art world for his controversial precursors to his collection of animal installments, Charles Saatchi, a famed art collector and owner of the Saatchi Gallery in London, offered to sponsor him as part of a group he dubbed the Young British Artists in 1991. Since then, Hirst has created many famous works that can be viewed today in world-renowned museums and galleries, such as the MOMA, the Tate Gallery, the State Museums of Berlin, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, the Mattress Factory Art Museum in Pittsburgh, and the National Galleries of Scotland. And now of course the Bruce Museum has joined this list of art institutions. One of Hirst's most famous works, commissioned by Saatchi in 1991, was The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,
WORTH ONE THRID OF THE PRICE OF A PICASSO…
public began not only to accept them, but also to celebrate them as pioneers for a new era in art. Does the art of Damien Hirst cross the line or is he avantgarde? Already, it has become increasingly hard for talented "serious" artists to obtain recognition for their work in the art world, which is why many artists go to such great lengths to garner attention from the public. Hirst, through his creation of disturbing imagery, falls into this latter category. So what exactly is the critical consensus of Damien Hirst? He has a significant number of admirers in the art world, as his nomination for the Turner Prize in 1992 and receipt of it in 1995 demonstrates. This prize, organized by the Tate Museum, is one of the U.K.'s most publicized awards
© Nicole Narea 2011
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and is awarded to a British visual artist under 50. There is, however, also a significant faction critical of Hirst and his works. Christie's, in their catalog for the May 9, 2006 Contemporary Art auction in New York, described Hirst's Away from the Flock, Divided, a lamb split in half in a tank of formaldehyde, as being "executed in 1995". While Christie's most likely did not intend this as a pun, it does cause one to question the irony of a description that suggests the lamb was actually killed in 1995. This catalogue description recognizes, albeit unintentionally, that, in the art of Damien Hirst, the creation process requires the killing of animals. Hirst's creation is literally the ultimate sacrifice for some of the unfortunate animals he uses in his works. Animal activist organizations created for the sole purpose of protecting animals from such cruelty may also have a reason to critically reflect on Hirst's work. As a spokesperson from the Education Department of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (ASPCA), stated in a conversation with me, "the ASPCA is against any kind of cruelty to animals." Considering the ASPCA's guiding principles states that "animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans," it is safe to say that Damien Hirst was not attempting to abide by the main ideals of the ASPCA or even animal welfare in general when creating his works.
HIRST’S CREATION IS
LITERALLY THE ULTIMATE
SACRIFICE FOR SOME OF THE
UNFORTUNATE ANIMALS HE USES IN HIS WORKS.
Hirst tries to justify his work by showing his audience that the animals he uses are martyrs for a greater and more important message. For example, he ties Away from the Flock, Divided to the religious symbol of a lamb. The dead lamb is meant to represent a martyred Christ and, since Christ often referred to his followers as his "flock", the title suggests that this lamb strayed from the flock and
met its fate. But does the general public really have this connection to the Bible in mind when viewing Hirst's art or are they simply fascinated with the goriness of a lamb's carcass? The initial shock one experiences when first viewing one of Hirst's animal pieces seem to be the primary purpose of his art. He wants to leave an impression on the art world by using such striking and unforgettable imagery. Hirst has certainly accomplished this and, in the process, has made himself a fortune of 35 million pounds by last count in 2003. But, following this shock, it is unlikely that anyone could gather many conclusions from a dead sheep in a tank of formaldehyde because, in the end, that's all it really is. Somehow, people seem to be blind to what is right in front of their faces: a real life example of animal cruelty. As a thirteen-year-old, I must come to ask, is this simply a passing fad or a peek into the future of the art world? If the future of contemporary art involves preserved carcasses, then should I expect children to grow up thinking it acceptable to tear off the limbs of animals and suspend them in formaldehyde for the sake of making millions, while the rest of the world applauds? Since children today, including my 9-year-old little sister, are seeing such disturbing and frightening art, have we truly come to the point where art, like the movies, needs to be rated on a G through R scale? For example, I, as a thirteen-year-old, am not allowed to see Silence of the Lambs, which is rated ‘R', yet I can walk into a museum and witness a silenced lamb. If children are not allowed to see violent movies so that they will not become insensitive to violence and the killing of living beings, then art should be no different. Damien Hirst gives many eloquent speeches about the meaning of his works and, in turn, people continue to argue whether or not his works should be considered art. That question aside, it is hard to imagine that the act of killing an innocent animal can be looked upon as anything but cruel. If we are to consider Hirst's works art, how does that reflect on us as a civilization? The general public has a choice to either accept his art and, in turn, this nuanced form of animal cruelty or reject it for what it is and, thereby, teach society as a whole to cherish the rights of all beings on this planet. This art student and animal lover votes the latter.
© Nicole Narea 2011
USE IT OR LOSE IT Date: March 17th, 2011 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCvI
orth Street Elementary School on a hometowns in order to cast their vote. Another could Tuesday morning is perhaps an end Election Day voter registration. Other expected anticlimactic setting for my first act of battleground states in 2012 like Wisconsin and South true adulthood. It will be as I have always pictured it. I Carolina are also mobilizing to initiate similar roam the deserted landscape in search of the legislation. murmurs that echo through the cavernous hallways. Any effort to limit youth voting should be My car keys jingle in my pocket as I take another step condemned, but O’Brien’s comments are alarming on towards that ultimate expression of my individual a different level — they paint a portrait of a freedom in this country. And then I see it, gleaming in generation that is dangerously ambivalent and metallic brilliance. So shall begin my long-anticipated uninformed. According to a study by ‘Rock the Vote,’ first rendezvous with the ballot box on Nov. 6, 2012. a non-for-profit organization that works to build the Some may regard this moment as political power of America’s youth, eligible young insignificant, a mere rite of passage. However, I view voters number 40 million strong as members of the it in a different light. I have witnessed the political largest and most diverse generation in history, the process as an onlooker on many occasions, first as a Millennials. We are indeed a potent demographic, child tugging at my mother’s sleeve as she penciled in capable of swaying the course of history, just as the her vote for the Gore-Bush election, and most Egyptian youth proved to wield more power than the recently on behalf of the Greenwich Time, people actually in power, quenching a nation’s thirst interviewing voters and volunteers at the local for revolution. We have all the tools to make change. precincts. But to actually participate — to think that I We have the advantage of an established democracy 4|P a g have e will invested myself in in which our revolution can take maintaining American democracy place silently, in so innocuous a WE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE as a mere 18-year-old, a widesetting as a public elementary OF AN ESTABLISHED eyed freshman in college — is school. nothing short of extraordinary. And yet, in spite of that, DEMOCRACY IN WHICH OUR My awe, however, is not we have become increasingly REVOLUTION CAN TAKE PLACE universal. According to a March 8 disengaged in the past two SILENTLY, IN SO INNOCUOUS A Washington Post article that went years. The youth vote decreased viral after its publication, New dramatically in the 2010 SETTING AS A PUBLIC Hampshire’s new Republican midterm elections with only ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. State House speaker, William 11% turnout, the lowest O’Brien, claimed that college percentage for the youth students lack “life experience” and “just vote their segment in two decades, according to The feelings” in a recent speech to a tea party group. He Washington Post. Are we so disenchanted with the viewed them as “foolish” because they vote political process as to not even care enough about overwhelmingly liberal, evidenced in the last going to the polls with an informed opinion? We, too, presidential election as Barack Obama garnered a have a responsibility to democracy. All it requires is a whopping 66% of the youth vote, according to a Pew five-minute date with the ballot box. Our Social Trends report. counterparts in the Middle East are dying to have O’Brien’s comments are a reflection of the such a date — literally. recent push in the New Hampshire legislature to But, midterms aside, the experience of the impose voting restrictions on college students that Obama campaign in the last election was a wake-up could efficiently bar them from the polls. One bill call for Democrats and Republicans alike. The youth seeks to restrict voting in college towns to students vote can make a difference. Besides, I have faith in my who establish permanent residency there, meaning generation, so watch your back, Speaker O’Brien — that most would have to return to the polls in their Mubarak didn’t see us coming either.
© Nicole Narea 2011
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE Date: June 9th, 2011 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCud
or most GOP presidential hopefuls, anything but Republican red would be a fashion faux pas. This is perhaps with good reason, given that Sarah Palin’s head-to-toe black leather was not an altogether flattering look for grass-roots conservatism in her recent joyride through Washington, D.C. streets in the Rolling Thunder rally. Her growling Harley Davidson, emblazoned with a picture of George W. Bush and the phrase “Miss me?,” is a PR push to launch her countrywide ‘One Nation’ bus tour, meant to educate Americans about the principles of the Founding Fathers, and what she calls a “commonsense conservative revolution.” In a column of mine two months ago, I addressed the issue of voter responsibility to democracy, particularly among members of the millennial generation like myself. Now, it’s the politicians’ turn for admonishment. I cannot speak to my opinions about Palin’s policies because she has failed to delineate them in specific terms. Rather than campaigning on substantive ideas, she advertises symbols of her particular brand of conservatism, showcasing images of her various antics — revving up her motorcycle, snowmobiling and (how could we forget?) elk hunting — by means of mass media. Such a strategy is not satisfactory for me as a young voter in the 2012 elections because, though she among other politicians may think otherwise, I will not fall for cheap marketing tactics. Yet the fans who greeted her at the Pentagon parking lot at the rally, screaming “Sarah, we love you!,” would deign to disagree. She is once again riding the wave of her star power, acting coy with reporters regarding a potential presidential bid. If nothing else, the media attention will contribute to her growing commercial empire. “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” premiered with a record-breaking five million viewers on TLC, according to Nielsen. Her memoir entitled Going Rogue became one of the best-selling nonfiction books of all time with 300,000 copies sold on the first day of sales, according to The Guardian. And her latest capital venture is a two-hour documentary about her ascent from small-town “hockey mom” to vice presidential candidate entitled The Undefeated, portraying her as a martyr for the
resurgence of Reagan republicanism. I’ll leave it to Mrs. Reagan to opine on that count. Tina Fey caricatures aside, Palin’s public continues to embrace her. According to a May 19 U.S. News poll, 12% of likely GOP voters said they would vote for her in the primaries, placing her in second only to frontrunner Mitt Romney. Is this truly the state of American politics — can a candidate’s celebrity-hood, propelled by reality TV, mount a serious presidential campaign? I wish it were not the case because politicians should elevate societal discourse, not cater to the viewers of TLC. The fact that a candidate who is relying on celebrity status can be included in a race of what should be America’s best and brightest can only be a reflection of voter apathy and disengagement. We don’t care enough to educate ourselves about the issues that govern politics and, consequently, some of us may fall prey to campaign strategies like Palin’s because they oversimplify issues that are necessarily complex and multi-faceted. While most politicians “dumb-down” the real issues for campaign purposes, her appeal to what she views as an increasingly less intellectual voter base is so blatant to the point of being disrespectful. I’d like to think that, in the time since Katie Couric famously asked her what newspapers she read, Mrs. Palin has actually read a few and now has substance. I can dream, can’t I? If we multiply this apathy over a period of 50 years, feeding a political landscape characterized by voter ignorance of all things substantive, our country may become a very different place. Indeed, the effects have already begun to manifest. Obama’s reelection campaign faces no strong opposition from the right, thus hindering democracy. Republicans are floundering — a potential frontrunner Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race to continue his weekly television show on Fox News. There is something seriously wrong with the political process when politicians decide against running for President in order to star on TV shows, and reality TV stars are the ones running for President. The world is an immensely more complicated place these days and voters of all ages, political parties, and backgrounds should “just say no” to politicians’ substance abuse.
© Nicole Narea 2011
THE CRUSHED ‘DREAM’ Date: April 14th, 2011 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCw2
t was on one of those bone-chilling New England winter mornings that I sank into a desk to take my first SAT. The nervous shivers oscillated up and down my spine. We’d begun the formality of “bubbling” in our personal information when I reached the box labeled “Ethnicity.” To many, my blue eyes and blonde hair deny me the right to identify myself as such, but the privilege of dual heritage, American and Chilean, makes it irrefutable: I am a Hispanic-American. When my pencil touched the paper, I remembered the many reasons that I am proud to fill in that bubble. One of them is a senior at Georgetown University whom I met last year. I was attending a conference about the State of Latinos in the U.S. in one of Georgetown University’s ornate lecture halls where a panel of experts gathered to discuss immigration reform and the future of the 47.8 million Hispanics living in the country as projected by the U.S. Census. One individual stood out amongst the rest, not a Washington D.C. luminary, but a nervous 20-year-old in a suit that was too big for him. His name was Juan. He interrupted the lecture to share his story. He was born in Colombia before his parents immigrated illegally to the U.S. when he was two in pursuit of a better life. He entered the public education system and had a typically American childhood. But the quandary of college always loomed. Because of his status as an illegal alien, his Aaverage and involvement in public service meant nothing to admissions officers. While his peers were accepted to Ivy League schools, he could only be accepted to community college. He managed to transfer to Georgetown on a special scholarship the next year, only to find out that his parents were to be deported. He has not seen them in two years. He now worries what will become of him once he tries to find a job after graduation. You see, his illegal status renders him useless to any employer. And he lives in fear that he, too, will be deported back a country that he does not remember, forced to relinquish the only home that he has ever known. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (the ‘DREAM’ Act) proposed to
change all of that before it was defeated at the end of the last congressional session this past December. It would have given approximately 65,000 high school graduates of good moral character who immigrated illegally to the U.S. before age 16 the opportunity to earn permanent residency if they completed two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning. Though those individuals compose less than 1% of the Hispanic illegal immigrant population, the policy behind the bill touches on the broad definitional problem of who should be legally eligible to pursue the American dream. In a press release last December, before the tragedy in Tuscon, Ariz., U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said of the DREAM Act, “If these individuals want to serve the United States by putting on a military uniform, we should find a way to make that possible. If they want to strengthen our economy by seeking higher education, we should find a way to make that possible, too.” I, too, believe in the power of this legislation. I had been following the bill’s progress closely and, when its failure was announced, my Twitter news feed came alive with expressions of crushed hopes from around the country. Knowing Juan’s personal sacrifice and commitment in pursuit of the American dream, I also shared in that disappointment. The U.S. Census points to the growing Hispanic population, but data pales by comparison to the laudable determination of immigrants like Juan. At the conference, Björn-Sören Gigler of Georgetown’s Center for Latin American Studies summed it well: “This is about their family life, the intangible issues of human dimension that can’t be captured by statistics.” It’s easy to relate to Juan. A short century ago, stories like his were associated with the huddled masses from Europe, eager to propel this country forward with their unbridled will. Thankfully, they did. Now, in this new century, it’s time to make Juan’s dream come true and put his will to good use for our country’s next chapter.
© Nicole Narea 2011
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MISSING A BEAT Date: April 14th, 2011 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCv9
iking my way through the network of highways that embroider the Mexico City landscape, I could feel my own insignificance amidst a population of 20 million. I found myself, like any other tourist, absorbed in the frenzy of one of the world’s largest metropolises. I was on spring break with my family and, predictably, we were lost. We stopped to ask for directions at the gates of the Museum of Ecology where a policeman was stationed. He detected my mother’s Spanglish immediately and asked us where we were from — Los Estados Unidos. His face twisted into a grimace. He proceeded to grumble about news of corrupt U.S. immigration officials who were supplying Mexican drug cartels with weapons at the border and facilitating the illegal drug trade by accepting bribes, so he said. He glared at us as if we were to blame, as if our Americanism instantly destroyed all credibility. He raised his voice at my father, seemingly itching to initiate a fistfight. Unlike the concierge at our hotel, he was not obligated to engage in niceties, I realized.
DID I REALLY HAVE TO
TRAVEL 2,000 MILES TO…
REALIZE THAT AMERICANS ARE DANGEROUSLY SELF-CENTERED IN A WORLD THAT IS
INCREASINLY LESS U.S. CENTRIC?
We walked away quickly as I mulled over the news and this man’s raw perception of the American international image. I questioned why I had not heard of these immigration officials before. I don’t miss a beat: I follow every major American news network and newspaper on Twitter in order to receive minute-
by-minute updates. Why would the media back home place this story on the back burner when it had the potential to inspire such animosity in this man? Did I really have to travel 2,000 miles to experience this disillusionment — to realize that Americans are dangerously self-centered in a world that is increasingly less U.S. centric? Perhaps the most striking example of the fact that the media coaxes the American ego and fuels ignorance is domestic news coverage of the democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Networks like CNN stumbled as they focused not on the plight of the protesters and their expression of individual liberty, but the fact that it was galvanized by the western inventions of Twitter and Facebook. CNN’s Piers Morgan gushed during his new primetime slot that “the use of social media” was “the most fascinating aspect of this whole revolution,” just days after the authorities used tear gas and water hoses to disperse protesters in Tahrir Square. In contrast, Al-Jazeera English was lauded for its rounded coverage of the revolutions. Even the White House turned to the Arab network to monitor the uprisings. In the meantime, American networks attempted to scrounge up more on-the-ground reporters in Cairo to little avail, unable to provide the same in-depth analysis of the unfolding violence and anger that pulsed through the city. Sam Donaldson acknowledged Al-Jazeera’s triumph in Egypt on ABC’s “This Week,” turning to one of their reporters and saying, “Thank you for what you’re doing.” It was for these reasons that, when I returned to my hotel room later that day, I switched on the TV not to CNN International, but to Al-Jazeera to get my dose of the Libyan airstrikes as journalists awaited the Arab League’s reaction to U.S. and allied military intervention. I expect the media to provide me with the balanced truth and act as the fourth branch of government, to widen my world view, not isolate it only to the U.S., sugar-coating not required.
© Nicole Narea 2011
THE NEXT CHAPTER Date: May 12th, 2011 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCum
was recently having lunch in Greenwich with an optimistic because, while the print medium will up-and-coming author — my father, H.T. eventually become obsolete, the digital market Narea, whose debut thriller The Fund comes presents a new frontier, a chance to reach a far out May 10. Over a couple of iced teas, we broader audience. Current data is certainly promising. discussed how today’s publishing world is decidedly According to CNNMoney, e-book sales recently different than the one my grandfather, novelist Paul trumped paperback sales for the first time, reaching Erdman, knew back in the 70s and 80s. $90.3 million in February, a 202% increase from the To give you an idea, a Google image search brings same month the last year. up an iconic photo of Paul Erdman from The Sonoma Why is the success of these digital publishing County Independent, reposing on the patio by the platforms so crucial? Indeed, it is what governs the pool of his California ranch and overlooking the content itself. As publishers continue to stumble surrounding vineyards. It was there that he financially, Debbie Stier of HarperCollins wonders if completed the manuscripts of they should “have fewer many of his best sellers on a authors and sell more books,” THE SURVIVAL RATE OF NEW portable Olivetti typewriter with a according to New York AUTHORS WHO RELY cigar in his teeth and a bottle of Magazine. TH-CENTURY EXCLUSIVELY ON 20 Wite-Out at his side. If that were the case, rookie It’s perhaps a quaint scene, writers would be dwarfed by MARKETING TECHNIQUES IS romantic even, in comparison to established authors — the SLIM AS THEY ATTEMPT TO my father’s nationwide James Pattersons and Dan CONQUER AN ALREADY 8|P age multimedia marketing campaign, Browns of the industry would spanning newspapers, magazines, be impenetrable. But there is, DWINDLING READERSHIP… television, radio, and social in fact, another trend: The rise networking sites. Indeed, his over of digital-only superstars who 27,000 followers on Twitter speak for themselves — a circumvent the traditional agent and publishing house Google search of H.T. Narea returns a decidedly 21staltogether. Century approach to book marketing. Last month, author Amanda Hocking sold over It may be madness, yes, but not excessive when 480,000 e-books of her nine titles after self-publishing considering how sales in print books have fallen 25% on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com, according to in the last year and only one in two Americans are USA Today. Evidently, the core product — storytelling regular readers, according to the Association of — will always be in hot demand. The transition from American Publishers and Gallup polls. The survival print to digital in publishing is just a quandary of the rate of new authors who rely exclusively on 20thdelivery system. Century marketing techniques is slim, as they attempt Purists may balk at the prospects of page turns to conquer an already dwindling readership amongst being reduced to the perfunctory flick of a finger on the noise of a store like Barnes & Noble, where an LED touch screen and the comfortable weight of a hundreds of tomes boast “NEW YORK TIMES book being diminished to a file on a computer chip. BESTSELLER” with all pomp and circumstance. It’s But as much as I love the coarse texture of pages in official: The salad days of my grandfather’s career are hardback, the robust smell of yellowed paper, I admit over, when hosting a summer of in-person book the future of publishing undeniably lies in technology, signings could have made a blockbuster. whether it be a Kindle, iPad, Nook, or an online This translates to a larger epidemic. On the business model. surface, the publishing industry seems to face pretty It’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter. grim odds with the decline of print. However, I remain
© Nicole Narea 2011
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RARE TOLERANCE Regional Gold Key – Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Date: September 30th, 2010 in The Greenwich Post Web link: http://ow.ly/5vCwd majority of the world’s population — a whopping 88% — believes in a god. Like it or not, it’s difficult to ignore religion’s impact on human history and as a frontrunner in the news. The controversies surrounding Pastor Jones’ planned and canceled “Koran Burning Day” and the proposed mosque near Ground Zero dominated headlines for weeks. Those instances showed how a most basic appreciation for other faith traditions could have helped create a healthy interfaith dialogue. I question how we propose to resolve such conflicts of religious strife if we can’t even understand each other’s basic beliefs systems. In this case, ignorance is certainly not bliss.
...WHEN I TRY TO EXPLAIN
THE VALUE OF STUDYING
RELIGIONS IN AN ACADEMIC
ENVIRONMENT TO MY FRIENDS AT OTHER SCHOOLS, THEY
felt compelled to set the record straight about what constitutes a religious education after witnessing Lady Gaga — the most infamous Sacred Heart girl ever to walk the planet — sirloin herself at the MTV Video Music Awards. Yes, at my school, Convent of the Sacred Heart, students are required to take theology classes from kindergarten to 12th grade. It’s a meaty subject, all right. This year, religion takes the form of my ethics and social justice class, where we debate complex social issues, like abortion and euthanasia, and examine them in light of religious traditions. This isn’t Sunday school. I have homework, I write essays, and I get graded. And here comes the shocker: I love it. The extent of my religious education prior to attending Sacred Heart eight years ago was only from the contents of my small children’s Bible, which condensed the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments into a succinct 10-page chapter with pictures. I’m an unlikely student of theology. Yet when I try to explain the value of studying religions in an academic environment to my friends at other schools, they look at me like I’m from Mars. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me since Ashton Kutcher has five million more followers on Twitter than the Dalai Lama. Personally, I’d find the Dalai Lama’s tweets more interesting than Ashton’s. You see, theology connects me to the real world — not MTV’s version of The Real World — that my generation is supposed to lead one day. Over the centuries, religion has influenced everything from politics, common law, science, and world cultures to art, architecture, and literature. And according to a 2005 Cambridge University study, religion will undeniably continue to affect every facet of society because an overwhelming
LOOK AT ME LIKE I’M FROM MARS.
Maybe I’m biting off more than a 16-year-old can chew, but I study theology to widen my view of the world. It doesn’t dictate my perspective, but it drives me to better understand those whose religion influences their world view. And here’s the crux of it all: That kind of understanding opens the door to trust. Taking a page from another one of my courses, history shows us that the most lasting civilizations are built on trust — not might. Now, getting back to Lady Gaga — I’ll have my nice meaty cut of tolerance, well done, please.
© Nicole Narea 2011
P a g e | 10
FIT TO PRINT Regional Gold Key – Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Date: September 2009
am a paper pack-rat. I can write love poems about the coarse texture of newspaper pages, their frayed edges, and that robust, hot-off-the-press smell. I can gloss my fingers over the New York Times masthead, “All the news that’s fit to print,” until the ink stains my hands. And I can flip, fold, and turn the pages until I am tangled in an awkward embrace with crumbling paper. Reading a physical newspaper is a sensory experience that can only be mimicked by technology like the internet or the Amazon Kindle, but never equaled. For disciples of the digital age, “page turns” have been reduced to the perfunctory flick of a finger on an LED touch-screen. The comfortable weight of a book in one’s hands has been diminished to a file on a computer chip. Certainly for storage purposes, it is convenient. Everything is getting smaller as the world digital. Yet, I never receive the same satisfaction 10 |goes Pag e from browsing articles on nytimes.com that I get from reading a big, fat print edition cover to cover. These days, however, I am an antiquated minority. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, USA Today has the highest daily print circulation with readership estimated at over 2 million. Last year, however, their print readership declined by a whopping 7.5% while their online readership grew to almost 10 million. Consumers have moved on. Who wants a cumbersome stack of dead trees when every issue of the New York Times since 1871 is available online using a greener, cleaner, and temptingly simple interface? And the word “recession” alone sends consumers canceling their print subscriptions immediately and running for the verdant, subscription-free hills of the World Wide Web. All print journalism is facing a huge conundrum. According to the Huffington Post,
average circulation levels for newspapers dropped by 3.5% for daily editions and 4.5% for Sunday editions in the past year. Not to mention Craigslist, a network of online communities featuring free advertising and classified ads, has taken over newspaper ad revenue, forcing newspapers to lay off more reporters. Newspapers must ask how they can possibly entice the consumer to pay for a subscription, or, better yet, discover another way to generate revenue that does not rely on the dying concept of a print edition. In fact, the state of the news industry is dire enough to attract the attention of President Barack Obama. A self-proclaimed newspaper junkie, Mr. Obama said he was open-minded about bills in Congress supporting a bailout of the news industry. He also expressed his concern that the internet is choking print journalism. In an interview with the Toledo Blade, he said, “Journalistic integrity…in all these different new media and how to make sure that it’s paid for, is really a challenge. But it’s something that I think is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy.” Many people argue that the news industry’s saving graces are the Amazon Kindle and other epaper machines. The same way Apple revolutionized music with 99 cent songs on iTunes, the Kindle may revolutionize news by luring in gadget-hungry consumers with its sleek, innovative design and its convenient system for buying digital media. Though I hate to side with the Kindle, it might just be able to put newspapers back in business and help maintain their integrity. If the concept of a print edition is forgone, the Kindle may be able to save the soul of newspapers, their content, from the unreliable realm of the blogosphere. Technology can give newspapers a means to survive, but editorial oversight is needed to produce news that is “fit to print”.
Resume and references available upon request. Twitter: @nicolenarea. See my bio on About.me/nicolenarea. © Nicole Narea 2011
A selection of my best journalistic pieces, including my columns for The Greenwich Post, Op-Eds for the Greenwich Time, and award-winning ed...