Tuesday, March 01, 2005

McCrum Interview

Thanks to a heads up from Moorish Girl I found today's Robert Birnbaum interview with British author Robert McCrum in The Morning News. McCrum is a great talent, but Birnbaum awkwardly breaks the first rule of interviewing: Know your subject. Note the following:

RB: And you have had two children. And a weekly deadline with the Observer, which is a newspaper or a magazine?

RMcC: It has nothing to do with the Guardian, although we are in the same building and we are owned by the Guardian. And when you ring up the switch board they say, “Guardian-Observer.”

RB: I have never seen a hard copy.

RMcC: Well, it’s a Sunday paper and its entire raison d’ĂȘtre is that it comes out on Sunday and always has done. We say we are the original Sunday because we have been coming out on Sundays since 1791. A long time. So the paper has a long tradition. It’s quite Wodehousian in the sense that it appeals to a very mixed bag of readers. You can’t classify it as left or right. It’s independent in instinct and discretion. Vaguely libertarian. Vaguely left wing, at times. But equally quite capable of taking what you might think is a right-wing position. It was weirdly pro-Iraq [war].

RB: Where does it stand now?

RMcC: It’s modified its position a bit. It’s had a long tradition of literary journalism. Orwell worked for it. Cyril Connolly worked for it, Julian Barnes—it’s had some very good people over the years, and so it’s a place that one can feel very at home.

McCrum is the literary editor of an old, established publication with 200+ years of history and Birnbaum hasn't yet laid his hands on an issue? Nor, apparently, did he at least research whether it was magazine, broadsheet, or tabloid (important distictions in UK print media). Even in Pasadena I can lay my hands on a copy - it comes in on Mondays or Tuesdays at the Bungalow News on Colorado Blvd. and costs $6.00 USD. Show a bit more journalistic elbow-grease next time.

No comments: