PARIS — As the editor of what we call a “digital magazine,” I must make lots of choices on any given day as the various streams of news — real and fake and often just pointless — criss-cross on my computer and smartphone screens. Save this, swipe that, assign this, ignore that.
Just one of countless outfits trying to make some sense of the world, and make a living along the way, Worldcrunch is at its best when we spot something worthwhile in a foreign language and get it out there for readers in English. Just in the past few days, we’ve had both topical and tropical beach stories, written in Italian and French, that I’d dare to say is summer reading that can make you smarter.
We are also generally at our best when we have a moment to reflect on the world around us, rather than join the headless-chicken race to keep up with the very latest breaking news — and the Internet itself. Still, old news editors sometimes can’t help themselves. And so there I was yesterday morning in front of a news report on the La Stampa website: Two bank robber brothers in northern Italy were pulling off ATM heists, using Donald Trump latex masks to hide their faces from security cameras.
Even if we saw it first, that hardly matters
The race was on: Within an hour or two we had produced what those of us in the digital news business call a “social video.” Check it out on Instagram. Or don’t. Or check it out in on a million other corners of the Internet. Even if we saw it first, that hardly matters if the herd comes storming in afterward. Or better, and simply, it hardly matters.
How — and how much — we all talk about the American president is itself a phenomenon worth watching. That Donald Trump has apparently no qualms in making a mockery of objective truth and a free press is a serious problem in its own right, and also a trap for those of us who must report on it. But what does it mean that bank robbers wearing Trump masks trick an aging editor into dreaming of Instagram fame? We can’t blame the Donald for that.
This brings me to a story flickering across my screen this morning. The aging (much older!) rock star Alice Cooper has dug up an authentic Andy Warhol worth millions that he’d placed in storage in the 1970s. The silk screen is of a photograph of an electric chair in blood-red relief, an image as relevant and vibrant as ever, destined no doubt to be hung some day on a museum wall. Even 40 years ago, it was perfect for Instagram.