But the frustration goes deeper than this, mostly because Panorama is legitimately gorgeous, and because Eggers and his team brought together such a ridiculous amount of talent.
It's hard not to see Panorama as a wasted opportunity. "What bugs me the most," a Manhattan media pal wrote to me, "is that all the work Panorama put into design could
actually have been really useful if it had been aimed at online
publications. Because online newspaper and magazine sites, even the
best ones, are still totally hideous."
Instead, Eggers and Co. spent a year fetishizing print -- which is fine if you believe, as he does,
that paper "is still the most viable model" for delivering news. For
the rest of us, reading Panorama is like participating in some ancient death ritual for the papers we grew up with. Farewell to the comics page. Farewell to the lifestyle section. Farewell to the pull-out book review section -- I'll miss you most of all.
As Gina Chen
pointed out last year, the current angst over how Americans consume
news is a lot like the ongoing angst about they consume other stuff, like food.
Observers worry that Americans are no longer interested in the
wholesome stuff, like hard-hitting investigations and watchdog
reporting. Instead, everyone's eating out at the world wide web
McDonald's, and it's starting to show. Look at our discourse. Look at
Now into the melee comes Dave Eggers, playing the role of the annoying guy who preaches the obvious.
know," he tells us, kindly, "you would be so much happier if you sat
down every night with your neighbors and ate a delicious, carefully
prepared meal of locally sourced organic ingredients."
To which we reply, "No shit, Dave. Too bad we end up eating takeout at the office."
he's not listening. He's going to prove how much better our lives can
be by producing Panorama, the most exquisite media meal in history. He
recruits his pals, Michelin-star chefs from around the country, to
prepare the food. He has interns build a magnificent community dinner
table from scratch. He orders artisanal tableware and beeswax candles
produced by well-adjusted bees. It all takes nearly a year.
Finally, he invites us to the table."Eat!" he tells us. "This is what you should be doing every night!"