Just a week or so ago, Huffington Post shut down its Contributors platform and cut loose all of it contributors — including me. The news came without warning in an unmarked email.
I had a nice run at Huffington, almost five years of unfettered, if poorly remunerated, freedom. The whole Blog thing held little appeal for me before that. I don’t even like saying “Blog.” Such a wretched word; writing as wretching.
Still, blogging for the Huffington Post initiated me into the word “I,” which, to my surprise, proved terrifically liberating.
In all of my previous thirty-plus years as a journalist, I’d never written the word “I” in a story. At The New Yorker the pronoun of choice, at least in “Talk of the Town” pieces when I was writing them in the 80s and 90s, was still the regal “we.” (“Bunch of E.B. White wannabes,” Tina Brown memorably dismissed us, when she took over as Editor from Robert Gottlieb in 1992 and…well…almost immediately literally dismissed us all.)
“I” never found its way into anything I next wrote for New York magazine — despite that joint’s history as a hotbed of first person “New Journalism.” When I moved over to The New York Times Magazine in the late-90s and, thence, to the Arts & Leisure section, “I” was verboten by Timesian fiat and I adhered to that stricture absolutely; believed in it, in fact, devoutly. Journalistic truth left no room for “I.” Just get the story right.
Writing for Huffington Post cracked the window for me on “I” and I sailed right through into a new realm of personal perspective shared. “I” also gave me the chance to talk about my kids in the context of theater and music reviews; to share their impressions and filter my own through their eyes and ears. “I” proved to be a blast.
Now, with the Huffington imprimatur yanked from me, I’ve decided to proceed down the path of “I” with a Blog of my own. You’re reading the first post.
“I” guarantee there will be more.