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Philadelphia's Drexel University publishes Smart Writing

03 Aug 2010
Posted by Shannon, an online magazine, first caught my eye because the name was an obvious steal from a mag that flourished in my favourite era in modern history, the 1920s. Back then The Smart Set paid a buck a word to writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway for the short stories they penned to keep them in champagne and Paris flats while they produced the great American novels.

Naturally, they went out of business paying writers that kind of dough.

Today’s Smart Set is the product of Drexel University in Philadelphia, and it offers a compendium of witty, thoughtful, insightful features and commentary pieces on just about anything you’d like to name.

While the factory model took over most journalism outlets a good 40 years ago, creating assembly lines for copy that was increasingly yawn-inspiring, is crafted by writers for readers. It has the one quality I’ve long argued is the single most significant one in journalism: Surprise.

I never know what I’m going to find when it arrives in my mailbox, but I always know I’ll get a kick out of it. It’s a consistently good read.

This week they offered a feature on the “heritage newspaper” – apparently tomorrow’s fishwrap has evolved into a tastefully designed publication of “great reportage” that can be had for $10 by those who want the best in lifestyle-statements. An insightful book review questions some of the ill-thought-out-ideas of a couple of shrinks writing about doing the wild thing, called Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.

The first-person commentary that appears to be essential in every publication is present, of course, but it’s a cut above the usual drivel. These are people who have something meaningful to say, and they deliver their views with style.

Subscribe. You won’t regret it.