Once upon a time I was a paid writer. Very well paid. I somehow managed to be quick, thorough and entertaining. And, most importantly, this brief career fed a very expensive dining habit in San Francisco. All was good in the world.
During this well fed time, I stumbled upon my first introduction to Public Relations through the watchful eye of the PR Grand Dame - Joan Luther. I conjured poetry to present her latest star chef, and I was often summoned to make the most egotistical appear approachable, even likable. In those days, bios of chefs and owners would run into multiple pages. Shockingly, people actually read them. Years later, when my own PR firm was opening a French Brasserie in Santa Monica, the chef offered up a bio, adding “I brought some information for you.” I had to laugh, as I had written those very words years before, when he opened a four star dining room on Melrose Place. I didn’t need to meet him then, I only needed the information to create the persona that the press expected.
Those days are gone. Vanished, just like the four star dining room.
I now occasionally find myself apologizing for writing emails in some bizarre shorthand that can be unreadable, if the recipient is not an avid fan of twitter. I tossed the basic rules of grammar years ago, I count on the computer for spelling, and I often use the a synonym app to find simpler, more common words that will not alienate anyone. Not that it matters a great deal, however, as almost no one reads anymore. And I mean NO ONE READS anymore.
Our inability to link words into sentences appears to be leading to the next logical step in entertainment and social media – the picture. Ask Justin Bieber about the impact of YouTube on his career. Ask your eight year old niece how often she watches YouTube, in comparison to how often she watches network television. Ask a blogger to post without pictures. I now watch in amazement when I tweet pictures, as the viewing counter spews numbers as rapidly as a gas pump. Ask Sarah at Taste Spotting. Ask the host of blogger camp and blogger prom and blogger bar hop and blogger…
DCPR will soon flip the switch to a gorgeous new website. What makes it gorgeous? Yup, the pictures! Not only are hi resolution pictures integral to the look of the site, but we will offer live streaming “picture feeds” of food and people in the news and in our lives. Pictures now capture the minds and imagination in a manner that only words could once do, transporting us to a new place, a new taste, or an entirely new reality. Chef videos? On the way…
I am saddened to realize how few still read, even more by how few writers actually read. I watch tweets that spew out so quickly with links to articles and blog posts, that the senders could not possibly have read even the first few passages. I enjoy the friendship of many professional writers, most dazed by the $300 million sale of The Huffington Post, a few that have recently found their long, happy newspaper careers slowing with each new tweet and blog post.
I once made it my daily routine to read passages from a literary master at the start of each day for inspiration. I haven’t done that in years. Instead, each morning I pick up my phone and check my twitter feed, before I check my emails, before I check my phone messages. Now that I’ve publicly admitted to the literary desert that my life has become, I just forced myself to pick up a book. A real book with real pages. A book that has sat dusty and untouched on my nightstand for months. It looks like a great read that will transport me to another place. Of course, I thought those very thoughts last November when I bought the book.
Let’s see how far I get. My new Nook Color is being delivered next week. It has COLOR PICTURES!