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Mashup Man Reaction

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Mashup Man was a profile of Adrian Holovaty for the American Journalism Review. Adrian creates “mashups,” putting large amounts of data into colorful packages and graphical representations. It was an interesting piece on a subject I knew nothing about.

Journalists, essentially, compile information for readers into a format. Holovaty does this, too. But I feel what he does is more of an accentuation to journalism than actual journalism. This is because he doesn’t go out and hunt down facts; he is handed facts. He then takes those facts and works with them, just like journalists. The similarities both begin and end there.

But what’s missing from Holovaty’s body of work is the sense of chase. He is not someone who goes out and turns stones seeking the truth. He gets the truth delivered to him and manipulates it accordingly. This is not what journalists do. In order to properly tell a story one has to seek out that story.

Holovaty is a contracter. He is hired out by organizations, fed data, and utilizes it. The people who uncovered that data to begin with (even if that merely entailed a stroll down to city hall to pull some records) are the real journalists here. Does he tell a story? Yes. Is it the same thing as writing a 4 pages of investigative journalism? Not at all.

This isn’t to say that he doesn’t play an important role. In order to serve the Ritalin-addled masses, information today has to be compiled into a high-tech and aesthetically pleasing format. Without that, the readership wouldn’t be there.

So it’s a tricky occupation to peg. It blurs the line between journalist and analyst. But as court room sketch artists who draw witnesses as they take the stand aren’t journalists (despite their products being used in journalism), neither is Holovaty.


Written by kolchak

February 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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