E-Publishing: Nature Writer Uses the Internet to Get Around Media Gatekeepers
(PRWEB) June 3, 2000
Early in the twentieth century, John Burroughs and Theodore Roosevelt popularized nature writing, but only in the last decade has nature writing by modern practitioners been accepted as a valid literary form. The rediscovery of nature writing, however, is far from a renaissance, and traditional outlets for true nature writing remain meager.
A new Web site by Robert Winkler represents a nature writer's attempt to gain empowerment by disarming the editorial gatekeepers. His noncommercial site could be subtitled, "Adventures in the Suburban Wilderness." An experiment in direct publishing, it tests the Web's potential for democratization of expression with essays, unfiltered by editors, that follow the tradition of New England nature writing perfected by Henry D. Thoreau.
"To most of the editors I've dealt with, nature is something alien." says Mr. Winkler. "If they publish nature-oriented writing at all, it's either environmental reporting that is often alarmist and invariably says little about the essential relationship between humans and nature; news about controversial or 'sexy' animals, like wolves or grizzlies; thinly veiled promotional copy about so-called ecotouring and adventure travel; or storytelling by 'name' writers. I've found that readers are better informed about nature than editors, so rather than let hype-driven, nature-indifferent middlemen tamper with my work, I decided to go direct."
Mr. Winkler is no frustrated amateur. He has been a photography columnist for Travel & Leisure magazine and a contributing outdoors columnist for The New York Times. He has scores of publication credits, including USA Today, Reader's Digest, and Salon. As a freelance copywriter and creative consultant, he has created successful print and electronic campaigns for more than 50 corporate clients.
In a departure from the nature-writing mainstream's penchant for remoteness, Mr. Winkler's writing speaks personally to the general reader about encounters he has with birds and other wildlife on walks close to his home in a Connecticut suburb 70 miles from New York City.
Mr. Winkler began to explore Web publishing three months ago, after working a "nowhere gig" at an online encyclopedia. An offer of free Web-site hosting from his internet service provider spurred him into action.
"I felt I had to do something with this free site, so I posted a few columns and provided links to columns I've written for other sites," he says. "My site has grown steadily ever since. The response has been better than I ever got writing for print publications."
Not only does Mr. Winkler do the writing; he also designed the site, codes the HTML, and finds the illustrations, which draw upon his own photographs; public-domain bird paintings by John James Audubon, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and Alexander Wilson; and works by contemporary artists. So far, there are columns about raptors, warblers, bird songs, migration, a woodland waterfall, and the loss of a farm to development. Future sections will cover nature news, books, links, and quotations.
According to Mr. Winkler, the online medium is particularly well suited to recounting episodes in the life of a peregrine writer. Those so inclined can, at the click of a mouse, follow him around the fragmented suburban wilderness by visiting Robert Winkler - Nature Writing at http://pages. cthome. net/rwinkler (http://pages. cthome. net/rwinkler).