With the benefit of a month’s hindsight, it seems apparent that the event known as Nonfiction , in which selected writers appear onstage to dish on each other, is in no way a viable enterprise, even for a second outing.

Successful media types strip-mining their memories for anecdotes is an intrinsically self-limiting process. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Eventually the seven organizers – quite established themselves and visible “on the Facebook” – will run out of well-placed, career-enhancing acquaintances to call onstage, and those acquaintances will run out of stories. Another self-limiting factor is the composition of the audience – other established media types and wannabes. The former will reach its fill rather quickly; the latter won’t know half the names. (And where is the admission fee going, apart from the venue?)

There is, of course, the contradiction of holding an evening of anecdotes by journalists that does something no credible journalist would – impose off-the-record status by fiat. If a source tried to do that at the end of a phone interview (as a graphic designer for Loblaws did to me once when I was interviewing him about a chocolate-bar wrapper), you’d have a good laugh.

But even that kind of contradiction, which rather calls the organizers’ bona fides into question, would not be enough to run the ship aground. The Nonfiction organizers have put themselves in the position of poor villagers who, after a drought, are faced with consuming next year’s seed corn.

You can’t build an empire on war stories nobody else can retell. Gossip is about the present, not the past.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.07.19 17:47. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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