Jeff Jarvis started in the newspaper business at age 17 and hasn't stopped since. He was the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly, the TV critic for TV Guide and People magazines; the Sunday editor, VP development, and associate publisher of the New York Daily News; a columnist on the San Francisco Examiner; an assistant city editor on the Chicago Tribune. Now he is president and creative director of Advance.net, the online arm of Advance Publications (Newshouse Newspapers, Condé Nast). He attended Claremont McKenna College and graduated from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. He now lives in the suburbs of New York with his wife, Tammy, and two children. He blogs at BuzzMachine.
Why do you blog? > I started blogging after surviving and reporting on the attacks on the World Trade Centre, where I arrived on the last PATH train as the first attack hit. I wrote my story for our online services and papers but I still had more to say. And so, I blogged. It has filled all my available life since.
What has been your best blogging experience? > After discovering the wonder of the Iranian weblog revolution, I hoped for a flowering of blogs in Iraq, and one day a dentist from Baghdad named Zeyad emailed me and said I had convinced him: he would blog. Now from Healing Iraq, he gives us a new perspective and he has convinced a dozen friends to do likewise. Having even a small part in helping a new nation discover free speech is more exciting than anything I have ever done in journalism.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Nothing compares with suffering a hack editor.
What are you reading at the moment? > Well, it's sad, I suppose (though I'm not sure why) but I truly read little more than weblogs these days. Reading books changed for me on September 11, 2001, when I was reading Jonathan Franzen's latest novel. I had to throw out my copy; it was infiltrated with the dust of destruction. I bought another copy. I couldn't bear its self-absorption. Fiction has changed for me since. Nonfiction looks stale next to weblogs. News looks sterile next to weblogs. So I read weblogs.
What is your favourite movie? > Truffaut's Day For Night is (oddly, I admit) my favourite movie simply because it is about creation and I love to create.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Easy: War. I called myself a pacifist early in the age of Vietnam and did not change my mind until September 11. There's an old joke that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A hawk is a pacifist in the foxhole. I saw on that day the moral imperative to protect our children from the threat of terrorism; I faced my generation's Hitler that day. My transformation occurred publicly, on my weblog.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > My brand of populism. As a critic, I defended the taste of the American people. As a blogger, I defend the wisdom of the people. For this is citizens' media. And I now firmly believe that if you do not essentially trust the taste, intelligence, and goodness of your fellow man, then you cannot be a democrat or an effective marketer or an artist or a reformed theologian or a decent teacher.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Today, anti-Semitism. It is a terrible chameleon that calls itself many things, but anti-Semitism is the evil of our age.
Who are your political heroes? > Bill Clinton and Tony Blair: pragmatic liberals, decent men (in spite of all punchlines), who uphold liberal virtues without liberal self-righteousness.
What would you do with the UN? > That's a changing answer. I used to support and believe in the UN. But I do feel betrayed by the UN following the Iraq war; they did not support the Iraqi people and fought against the US and Britain. So now I see the UN through different, darker lenses, and I ask whether it is time to start a competitor to the UN: an alliance of the world's democracies to build a doctrine of democracy for our future.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > No doubt: Terrorism and fanaticism. Whether at the World Trade Centre or in Jerusalem or Moscow or Belfast or Baghdad, those who would destroy innocent life in the sick and evil pursuit of what passes for a cause are the most deluded, evil, destructive people of our time. Terrorism must be condemned as an evil tantamount to Nazism. There is no excuse for terrorism, not cause, not reason.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > I once dated an arch-conservative. She was smart and beautiful and talented and charming but I wondered what it would be like either arguing all our lives or avoiding half the interesting topics of conversation instead. Fortunately, it didn't matter; we didn't click profoundly. Instead, I married someone smarter, more beautiful, more talented, and more charming with whom I happen - ah, providence - to agree on most any political topic. It's certainly more convenient.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Open-mouthed chewing. Drives me nuts. Drilled into me by my mother. An obsession. Can't bear to hear somebody else smacking. Trivial? Absolutely. But profoundly irksome.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Sports. Especially watching sports. I know this is just a reaction to all the jocks who made fun of my catching and dribbling. But still, I don't get spending hours playing a golf game or watching one. I'd rather be blogging.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Oh, so many things: Work; not working; heart disease; cancer... you name it. I'm a hypochondriac. But the biggest worries come when you have children; you want to hermetically seal them until they are grown. So I worry about and for them constantly.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > When I was at Time Inc., I wouldn't sign the editors' contract because it had a gag clause. And I quit Entertainment Weekly. If I had signed and had engineered my firing (not difficult), I would have received three years' salary, bonus, and benefits. I now know the price of integrity and I think I was an idiot to pass up the money.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > I am a very rare beast: a Canadophile. Canada always seemed simpler and more civilized to me and I like its self-deprecating sense of humour. I love Sweden for similar reasons: less humour, prettier people.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A year off to write a book.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Easy answer these days: Blog. My blog fills my available life; I find myself plotting couch time so I can browse and blog. In fact, I resent filling this out now; I'd rather be blogging.
What is your most treasured possession? > Odd mementos of destruction: The dust-encrusted briefcase I carried on September 11th; a piece of the Berlin Wall.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to both start and finish a book.
Who are your sporting heroes? > I have none. I was tall and clumsy as a kid and came to resent the tyranny of jocks. As a result, I didn't exercise until well into my 40s. So I look up to no jocks.
[Previous profiles: Ophelia Benson (Nov 7); Chris Bertram (Sep 26); Alan Brain (Oct 10); Francois Brutsch (Dec 5); Jackie D (Oct 17); Harry Hatchet (Oct 24); Saddam Hussein (Nov 14); Oliver Kamm (Nov 21); Sheila O'Malley (Dec 19); Natalie Solent (Nov 28); Roger L. Simon (Oct 31); Michael J. Totten (Oct 3); Brian Weatherson (Dec 12). The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature.]