I met with New Yorker writer Tad Friend when he came out to L.A. last July. We talked at Caffe Latte, ostensibly about the Hollywood blogosphere, but it quickly became clear that Nikki Finke was the irresistible subject at hand. No question, she's compelling. Always.
Friend and I followed up with a few emails and phone calls. I gave him some time. It was clear to me that while he's an excellent reporter and writer, he writes his Letter from California as an outsider. He lives in New York. And he's a relative Luddite as far as the Internet is concerned. Many folks I know talked to him. So I confess to being disappointed that the profile covers so much of the same ground already dug by the NYT's David Carr and others. "A combination town crier and volcano god, Finke evokes in her readers both anxiety and respect," Friend writes.
UPDATE: LA Observed's Kevin Roderick quotes Finke cheering about how she and Hollywood manipulated The New Yorker into taking everything negative out of the piece. As he says: "Vintage Finke." UPDATE: Carr is far more candid and revealing in his blog response to the NYorker and "darling Nikki" than he was in his original print piece. Here's a perceptive piece by Anne Helen Peterson.
Yes, Finke is powerful and effective in her Hollywood coverage. She's got the town wired. People in the business use her while they are afraid of her. Clearly, many industry insiders were happy to give Friend on-the-record plaudits about Finke. As he admits, they could then go back and tell her. (And most people weren't willing to say bad things on the record.)
But I don't fathom why so many established reporters respect Finke's version of journalism: her blogging is speedy, egocentric, biased, and not transparent. She doesn't follow the rules these journalists abide by. Maybe they envy her.
[I envy her New Yorker illo by Jaime Hernandez. How cool is that?]