Leave it to Gay Talese to find a new angle on an old story. In a video for the Big Think, Talese declared that technology hasn’t merely hurt the longstanding economic model that supported narrative nonfiction writing; it also compromises the quality of the journalism itself. Talese describes the resources it took to write “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” one of the seminal pieces in longform nonfiction—and why, long before the Web came along, the tape recorder was “the worst thing to ever happen” to serious nonfiction writing.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.