I heard a talk about a really interesting, but maybe not universally agreed upon analogy between jazz and journalism.
Of course, I chose to attend and that meant I was going to be potentially receptive. But I have it well engrained that arguments by analogy are always troublesome — thanks to my other studies in philosophy.
Still, I think that Laura Amico – CEO, Glass Eye Media, made a strong case.
At the core was this premise: jazz and news both exist within the environment.
On the surface, that comment seems obvious. But in the context of jazz, she argued, it should influence our thinking.
Jazz is about improvising in a stepwise manner, reacting to the audience, venue and previous notes.
“Each note, though incremental, shapes the note which it proceeds” she said, clarifying it is called “yes, and” in jazz.
She said, “In order for jazz to happen, each player in the ensemble must be doing their job.”
Again, I found myself reluctantly agreeing that this fit a (good) newsroom model.
Amico offered these three lessons from her comparison to the musica genre:
1. Innovation happens when the mind is free of preconceived plans
2. When we listen to what our colleagues – on and off stage are doing – we create space for all of us to do our best work
3. Take action, say “yes, and”
I’m left, however, with a single philosophical question stemming from a very memorable and unresolved philosophy of aesthetics class discussion: is journalism an art form? Is photojournalism or videography or writing, even if another one isn’t?
Addition from a question from the crowd: he asks about other genre comparisons, Iike punk. It is confrontational, loud, but also can be formulaic. Doesn’t that sometimes apply too?