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Huey and the News

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My argument would be that Manhattan, Inc.'s true successor magazine -- following the recessionary period of the late eighties and early nineties -- was Wired, which moved the center of capitalistic gravity from finance to technology and further developed the new fascination with the entrepreneur as folk hero. Wired not only articulated a culture and a reason for being that the technology industry formerly lacked but provided a road map for the rest of the media. I'd argue, too, that Fortune, following this map, embraced these folk heroes and became Wired's successor, spreading the entrepreneurial faith and boom belief through the ranks of upper-middle managers everywhere.

With a little critical interpretation, you might say that the rise of the new economy owes as much to magazines as to silicon chips.

Their myth-making capabilities, their pageantry of advertisements and boosterism, their singular ability to distort a reader's worldview (after a few weeks of reading The Industry Standard's 200-to-300-plus-page issues, you'll surely find yourself believing that no one talks or thinks or dreams about anything but the Internet), certainly help fuel an irrational enthusiasm.

Oddly, or not, the most sought-after business journalists have no background in business -- Jim Ledbetter, The Industry Standard's New York-bureau chief, was a well-known left-wing journalist at The Village Voice. Feature writers, culture writers, political writers are all coming over. The truth may actually be that business magazines in their relentless drive to fill pages will hire nearly anyone. But what is at a premium is writerly skills. If you can make it larger than life, tell a page-turning story, make romantic heroes out of accountants, then John Huey wants to hear from you.

So you the reader, instead of feeling like some guy in a hub city commuting to a useless meeting, can pull that telephone out of the seat back and really believe, like Warren Buffett or Jerry Yang or Mad Max, that you're on your way somewhere.

E-mail: michael@burnrate.com


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