I was at Stacey's bookstore today at lunch, along with perhaps 60 other New Yorker magazine fans, to see film critic David Denby talk about Snark, his slim volume critiquing the snide tone that he perceives is taking over American media. I doubt that this book will be on my reading list soon, but I was curious to get a peek at a New Yorker columnist in the flesh.
He singled out the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd as a current example of snarkiness. He feels that she is so pre-occupied with being snarky that she misses the actual story.
He has a lot of fears regarding the Web taking over print-based journalism. He fears the loss of authority, the loss of fairness, the loss of investigative journalism, the loss of privacy, the loss of manners, the loss of accountability. He cited Gresham's Law, meaning that the bad drives out the good. In this, Denby allies himself with those many commentators who are telling us that the Internet is making us worse.
The Stacey's staff is good about keeping these events short so that they can sell books before people start to wander off. Denby, though, clearly would have liked more time to engage with his audience.