Tag Archives: Truland

Panel Explores Impact of Celebrity Journalism

In the battle for eyeballs and clicks, the growth of celebrity media is forcing traditional media to re-evaluate their business plans and news strategies. From coverage of big stories to the battle for TV ratings, the new breed of media is changing the news competition, San Diego media experts agreed during a recent panel discussion, “Journalism in the Post-Kardashian Era.”

Co-sponsored by the San Diego Press Club and Pt. Loma Nazarene University’s journalism program, the panel discussion focused on the day-to-day implications of the popularity of the vast number of popular new media outlets—TMZ, Buzzfeed, Radar, Inside Edition, OK TV, et al–competing for the attention of the news audience.

Celebrity Media_Panel

“Celebrity journalism is not new; it’s the volume and intensity of organizations chasing the audience,” said panel moderator Kevin Brass, the former media critic for the San Diego edition of the Los Angeles Times and author of “The Cult of Truland,” a novel set in the world of celebrity journalism.

The panel included Tiffani Lupenski, news director of KGTV (Channel 10); Lt. Scott Wahl, public information officer of the San Diego Police Department; Tom Mallory, online editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune; Gene Cubbison, a reporter with KNSD-TV (NBC7); and Irene McCormack, a crisis communications specialist who was thrust into the national media spotlight when she was the first to come forward with sexual harassment charges against former Mayor Bob Filner.

Ms. McCormack’s story generated a lengthy discussion, as she shared her stories of what it was like to be chased and investigated by the tabloids. She hired Gloria Allred, who acted like a shield. Ms. McCormack’s advice to anybody in that situation–don’t talk to the media; get someone to speak for you.

The fast flow of information—and incorrect information—may lead to more restrictions on the availability of information, Lt. Wahl warned. Social media may ultimately spark efforts to tighten controls on records, which would be unfortunate, he said.

Competition forces news executives to make tough decisions, Ms. Lupenski noted. Asked when a celebrity story is news and when it is not, she emphasized there is no set answer. She often holds newsroom discussions to debate stories. But audiences are interested in celebrity news, especially in Southern California, and that must be taken into account, she says.

Celebrity Media_Group

With the competition intensifying online, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s web product is much different than the print edition, Mr. Mallory said. His competition is Buzzfeed, Facebook and every other online entity hoping to attract readers. But the sensational celebrity stories don’t work as well for the local site as original feature stories produced by the newspaper’s staff, he said.

Mr. Cubbison from NBC7 offered a list of the many big national stories he’d covered over the years, from the McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro to O.J. The tabloids and celebrity news organizations are often pursuing the same stories, but they take a different approach than traditional news organizations, he said. In cases like Ms. McCormack’s story, the difference is often “basic humanity,” he said.

Tips for Writers Moving from Non-Fiction to Fiction

FaceWriting fiction is a strange and mysterious concept for most media professionals, who are steeped in the style and rules of non-fiction writing.

As a journalist, you think writing fiction will be easy. You are freed from worrying about all those messy facts. What could be easier than making up a story?

Instead, fiction is a daunting mix of annoying obstacles and daunting challenges. The story is percolating. The ideas are there. But the words don’t flow. Structure, plot, characters–fiction writing is a morass of the unknown for a journalist.

But non-fiction writers have advantages in the fiction game. Real world skills can be translated into the realm of make believe. Old habits can be broken; new ones created.

Here are a few tips for non-fiction writers on how to turn those obstacles into opportunities:

::Figure Out a Style: In journalism or non-fiction, the style and voice of a book is usually fair obvious. It’s about telling the story in a factual way. But a great work of fiction create its own style and voice, a consistent tone and vocabulary that brings the reader into the fictional world. Finding that style. It’s worth taking a moment to step back and consider what kind of book you are writing. What is the genre? Who are the authors I admire in that genre? Don’t copy, but learn from those authors. Take special note of the pacing and dialog. Focus on the elements that fit your vision.

::Use Reality: Non-fictions writers are experts at reporting what they see. That works for fiction, too. Look for people, places and events that you know. Let the details of real life create the nuance of your fictional world. Those details are the key. Remember the old adage, “show, don’t tell.” Don’t stretch your imagination; mine your memory and the interactions and settings of everyday life.

SD Press Club::Think in Scenes: Many fiction newbies become trapped in the timeline of the story, letting it roll out in a set chronology. But stories are collections of moments, scenes that tell the story in dramatic fashion. Rather than recapping the daily lives of the characters, think of scenes that really illustrate the story. Focus on those moments. These scenes have beginnings, middles and ends, just like the larger story. You can always bring in other elements through flashbacks or dialogue. But the action in the scene moves the story forward.

::Don’t Forget the Drama: In the non-fiction world, a writer is simply reporting the facts. Fiction requires the writer to take on more responsibility. Scenes need to be created that revolve around some sort of conflict, threat or dilemma–either moral, physical or imagined. It doesn’t matter what kind of conflict or if it’s supposed to be a funny scene or a romantic scene. Every chapter needs an element that makes it compelling, rather than simply “moving the story along.”

::Create a Great Lead: Every journalist understands the concept of a great lead. But it’s even more important in fiction. Those first 50 pages are everything. Every writer should take an extraordinary amount of time and energy to create a gripping first 50 pages. Think of the opening scene of a movie, except in this case everybody can walk out after 15 minutes. You need to grab them.

::Leave Stuff Out: This can be a tough one. Media professionals are trained to tell the story along a tight timeline, offering information as it appears. But in fiction it’s essential to not tell the reader everything. Tease them. Leave gaps that will create questions to be answered later in the book. Drop hints as foreshadowing. In non-fiction it’s the writer’s responsibility to be true and honest; in fiction the writer’s responsibility is to engage readers, to play with their emotions and fears.

::Don’t Organize, Just Write: Every writer has their own methods. Journalists and professional commercials writers tend to like organization. Outlines. Note cards. A clear, logical path to follow. If that works for you, great. But fiction is not about arranging facts. At a certain point it’s about letting it flow, releasing the imagination to go free range. Don’t worry about where it will fit in the story or if it makes sense in the scene or if it’s appropriate for the character. Just write.

At a certain point as a writer, you can’t get hung up on the vagaries of fiction and all the rules and traditions of fiction. You just need to write. There is no substitute. It takes hard work and hours staring at a computer screen, which is something every non-fiction writer understands.

Kevin Brass is the author of “The Cult of Truland,” a satirical novel set in the world of celebrity journalism. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Ozy.com. This article is excerpted from his presentation, “Going Fiction,” for the San Diego Press Club.

Austin Chronicle Picks ‘Truland’ for Summer Reads

Cult-of-Truland-1024The Austin Chronicle has included “The Cult of Truland” in its Summer Reading selections, praising the novel for its “satirical edge.”

“The Cult of Truland” is set in the world of celebrity journalism and follows the exploits of Jake Truland, “a hero for the post-Kardashian Age.”

“At first, The Cult of Truland, set in southern California, reads like a frothy beach book, albeit with an undertow that grows stronger as it goes on,” Chronicle editor and reporter Michael King writes. But the book soon veers into more serious topics, exploring the behind-the-scenes practices of the celebrity press.

AustinChron“A dark thread runs through the otherwise lighthearted narrative,” King wrote.

“The Cult of Truland” is the first novel from Kevin Brass, who covered media for the Chronicle from 2004 to 2010. His columns and analysis of media issues have also appeared in Ozy, the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Magazine.

“Brass has traveled the world and soaked up a wide range of pop culture, and it sparkles over the edges of his first novel,” King wrote.

Read the full review here.

Buy the book here.

Celebrity Journalism Takes Center Stage on National Radio Show

“The Cult of Truland” author Kevin Brass was a guest recently on the nationally syndicated “The Big Biz Show” to talk about Brian Williams, TV news and the state of celebrity journalism.

BigBizShowMr. Brass joined veteran entertainment journalist Fred Saxon and co-hosts “Sully” Sullivan, Russ T. Nailz in a far-ranging discussion, including the recent controversy about Bill O’Reilly’s resume claims.

“The Cult of Truland,” Mr. Brass’ first book, is a satirical novel set in the world of celebrity journalism. The humorous, fast-pace style has drawn comparisons to Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, with many readers focusing on the media issues raised by the story.

Mr. Brass has covered media for the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Magazine and the Austin Chronicle, earning awards and critical acclaim for his analysis and commentaries. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and a variety of other publications.

Check out videos of the show:

Part Two:

Praise for “The Cult of Truland”

“A trifecta — funny as hell, cautionary and filled with jaw-dropping thunderclaps . . . If you dig Robert Crais and Elmore Leonard, you’ll enjoy Brass’s wild dive into the drowning pool of Big Time fame.”
– Bill Minutaglio, former People Magazine bureau chief, author of “Dallas 1963” and “City on Fire”

“An amazing voice… [the] style reminds me of Elmore Leonard.”
-Houston Writers Guild

“Smart, insightful, contemporary and witty commentary on the modern media condition, come to life with a compelling character along with a fun cast of characters. A delightful read.”
-Paul Taublieb, Emmy-award-winning producer

“The main character is a trendy, smart writer who gravitates towards TV cameras and celebrity-tracking websites like a gambler to a poker game.”
-Del Mar Times

‘Truland’ Launches With Events in San Diego

Del Mar event_MayorsGlowing Sand Media’s “The Cult of Truland,” a novel set in the world of Hollywood and celebrity journalism, was formally launched to the public in recent weeks with events in San Diego and Del Mar.

The formal kickoff event was held at the Del Mar Library, a fitting setting. A large part of the book is set in Del Mar, which has a long history as a getaway spot for Hollywood celebrities.

Del  Mar event_SpeakingTwo former mayors of the city attended the event, which was billed as, “A Night of Celebrity and Media.” The local newspaper, the Del Mar Times, profiled author Kevin Brass in an article titled, “Del Mar Native’s Novel Examines the Glorification of Celebrity.”

Mr. Brass has also been speaking to book clubs and private events in San Diego, discussing the book’s depiction of celebrity journalism and modern media practices.

IMG_1849“The book is meant as a fun read, but it explores very real issues about the ethics and influence of celebrity journalism,” Mr. Brass says.

Early reviews have universally praised the book’s behind-the-scenes characterization of Hollywood and the fame-related media, in addition to the humor.

“The Cult of Truland” is a contemporary satire in the page-turning tradition of Christopher Buckley and Carl Hiaasen. Set in the world of Hollywood and celebrity media, it tracks the scandals, crimes and lustful relationships of paparazzi icon Jake Truland, a true hero of the post-Kardashian age.

First Reviews for ‘Truland’ Cite Celebrity, Media Angles

ElvisThe early reviews are in for Glowing Sand Media’s first release, “The Cult of Truland,” and readers are unanimously responding to the book’s insights into celebrity, media and Hollywood.

A contemporary satire in the tradition of Carl Hiaasen and Christopher Buckley, “The Cult of Truland” traces celebrity journalism’s coverage of fame-obsessed Jake Truland, described as “a hero for the post-Kardashian age.”

The book “captures an insider’s view of the frenetic pace and competition in the land of celebrity-obsessed culture insightfully and packs it with humor in virtually every page,” wrote one reader.

Another Amazon reviewer wrote, “I liked the ‘behind the scenes’ kind of access to the paparazzi world, that’s not something you hear much about.”

“The Cult of Truland” was written by Kevin Brass, a longtime feature writer and columnist for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Brass spent lengthy stints covering Hollywood and celebrity for People Magazine and “Access Hollywood,” the nightly entertainment news show.

“It’s meant as a fun read,” Mr. Brass said. “But I hope it also reveals the questionable methods and ethics of celebrity journalism, which we see seeping into traditional media.”

Amazon reviewers have also responded to the book’s humor. Several readers used the phrase, “laugh-out-loud funny.” More comments:

“A wonderful read…just twisted enough, absurd enough, culturally and socially satirizing enough, intelligent enough, and strange enough to keep me reading and reading.”

“Satirical, laugh-out-loud funny, spot-on characters – a rollicking good read. Highly recommended as a fun, easy book but one with something to say. I’m sure this will be on my ‘best of 2015’ list.”

“Every line rings true and is laugh out loud funny.”

“Filled with chuckles and well-timed guffaws, this amusing book roams through the absurdities of cultivated celebrity.”

“A true comedic tour de force…”

“Smart, insightful, contemporary and witty commentary on the modern media condition…”

See the full list of reviews here.

‘Cult of Truland’ Offers Inside Look at Celebrity Journalism

tCot-BookCover-FINAL (250 x 386)The first release from Glowing Sand Media is “The Cult of Truland,” a satirical novel offering an insider’s look at the world of celebrity and celebrity journalism.

Written by veteran journalist Kevin Brass, “The Cult of Truland” tracks the “scandals, crimes and lustful relationships of paparazzi icon Jake Truland, a true hero of the post-Kardashian age.” A mysterious chain of events puts Jack in the spotlight and creates a media frenzy that spins out of control.

Part satire, part mystery, part celebrity expose, “The Cult of Truland” is a page turner that has drawn comparisons to Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen.
“It’s meant as a fun read,” Mr. Brass said. “But it also deals with very real issues about celebrity and celebrity media, as well as our obsession with fame.”

This is the first novel by Mr. Brass, a veteran feature writer and columnist for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and a wide variety of publications. His analysis and commentaries on media trends have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Magazine and the Austin Chronicle.

Mr. Brass also has a long history of covering Hollywood, movies and celebrity, including lengthy stints with People Magazine and “Access Hollywood,” the nightly entertainment news show.

Learn more about “The Cult of Truland” and read an excerpt here.