Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Guest Post by Vikram Johri: NBCC at 35

By Vikram Johri

NBCC member Vikram Johri sends his 35th anniversary thoughts.

Heartiest congratulations to the NBCC on turning 35. As a rather recent member of this esteemed organization, I feel privileged to belong to a community whose membership has opened many doors for me.

As an Indian who has published reviews in a number of American dailies, I can vouch that American editors are welcoming of diversity. I have been given regular work so long as it was possible for editors to do so. But with the American journalistic landscape going steadily barren, I worry about my prospects for the future.

As a freelancer, I hope that the NBCC will do more to act as a facilitator for freelancers to get work. In this climate of layoffs and buyouts, one is never sure when the next possible assignment will stop coming. To tenured journalists, the shock of a job loss is painful, but there is at least a sweetener in the form of a buyout. That's not the case with freelancers.

A spate of online initiatives has come to the rescue, for sure, and some of them, such as the Barnes & Noble Review, match the best in the business in terms of content and styling. (I especially love their animated reviews by Ward Sutton.) But a model for sustainable online journalism is still in the works, so one feels restrained in making a qualified comment.

Besides this, I also worry for the future of the long review, space for which is shrinking by the day. How long, I wonder, before a New Yorker or Granta go under and the only place that we can still go to for a deep, insightful dip is the computer screen?