Welcome to Semafor Media, where — in keeping with media tradition — Max is sweating it out in Brooklyn while I write from Martha’s Vineyard.
I’m out here for the biennial book festival, which has mostly been a nice break from the AI panic ruling news media. Even as the machines replace copy editors, paralegals, and the people who write Law & Order episodes, novelists ought to be pretty much the last to go.
But the Pulitzer-prize winning writer of “March,” Geraldine Brooks, rejected that consensus on a panel Saturday. She’s more worried, and intrigued, by the possibility of a new wave of machine creativity. And more to the point, there’s not a word in her book contracts about AI.
“We’re the ones who should be going on strike,” she said of novelists.
“I bet some monk in a scriptorium took one look at the first blurry, error-ridden broadsheet off the Gutenburg press and said, ‘This is lousy. They’ll always need manuscript illuminators,’” she told me later in an email.
Sounds like a good, timely novel.
Also worthy of a novel: The New York Times is investigating yet another Baghdad bureau chief, and again the trouble in Baghdad has more to do with the direction of the publication than any particular local foibles. Max Tani has the scoop, long after the American public turned their eyes away from Iraq.
And: A heterodox university draws a line, the Atlantic presses its case against Variety, Vice keeps shedding journalists, and a gossip queen moves on.
If you’d been signed up for our newsletter on American politics, Americana, you would have been the first to get Dave and Shelby’s blockbuster story last week on leaked Signal chats from the DeSantis campaign, and their glimpse into a disastrous strategy of laundering meme-filled videos through anonymous Twitter accounts. Sign up here.