Jonathan Katz (born 1947) is a U.S. journalist and author. He is known for his contributions to the online magazine HotWired, the technology website Slashdot, the online news magazine Slate.com, and his series of crime novels, books on the geek subculture, and his books on dogs.
Katz initially worked as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and later as of the CBS Morning News. His media criticism, columns and book reviews appeared in such periodicals as Rolling Stone and New York (he was a contributing editor to both magazines), Wired, GQ, and The New York Times.
Expressing "disenchantment with the world of old media", he joined the now defunct HotWired, the online version of Wired magazine, to which he contributed articles on technology, culture and the media.
Katz's first article on Slate.com appeared in December 2005 and he has since become a regular contributor to the online magazine. The majority of his writings at Slate revolve around animals and his rural life.
Katz has written several novels as well as non-fiction works which cover topics ranging from geek culture to his relationship with dogs. He wrote a successful series of mystery novels centered around the character Kit DeLeeuw, a former Wall Street financier turned private investigator, based in the fictional Rochambeau, New Jersey.
Katz' most recent books have described his relationships with dogs. He began writing about them after taking in a difficult border collie, whom Katz credited with changing his life by causing him to take up sheepherding and move to a farm. He has written extensively on the way we train dogs, arguing that most approaches fail because they are too inflexible, and because—as dog owners—we over-anthropomorphize our companion animals: "we give them too much credit, make them too complex, muddying our communications" by treating them as "soul mates" rather than understanding and respecting their animal nature. "I can't imagine life without a dog," Katz said in a 2002 interview. "I don't think dogs are substitutes for people, but I must confess I often find them more reliable."
Katz's writing was often criticized by Slashdot readers. Some criticism was leveled at Katz when he posted an article about an e-mail message he purportedly received from a teenager named "Junis" in Afghanistan who had just rejoined the Internet in late 2001. Some Slashdot readers believed the e-mail message to be a hoax or parody designed to fool Katz. According to Katz, Junis wrote his e-mail from "his ancient Commodore computer", which he had 'dug up' and was now using to download movies, pornography, and MP3s thanks to the recent liberation of Afghanistan. Because of the unlikelihood of performing these activities on the Commodore 64, some Slashdot readers felt this demonstrated Katz's lack of technical knowledge about computers. An article in the Technology section of the New York Times discussed the Slashdot piece and its criticisms.
In the Border Collie community
Katz's books about dogs have received favorable reviews in the literary press, but have been met with a hostile reaction in segments of the Border Collie community. Notable examples of this criticism have included Donald McCaig's review of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm in [The Bark] magazine, and Penny Tose's review of Katz on Dogs in The American Border Collie magazine, as well as comments on various Internet forums such as the BC Boards and the Working Stockdog Forum. Critics have faulted Katz for a fundamental lack of understanding of the dogs and their work and for offering misguided training advice while professing an expertise that he in fact lacks. Katz has claimed to enjoy "riling the border collie snobs," but criticism of the author intensified after he gave away his second border collie and had the first put down for behavioral problems.
List of publications
Kit DeLeeuw series novels
- Death by Station Wagon (1993)
- The Family Stalker (1994)
- The Last Housewife (1995)
- The Father's Club (1996)
- Death Row (1998)
Books about dogs
- Running to the Mountain: a journey of faith and change (2000)
- A Dog Year: twelve months, four dogs and me (2003)
- AKA A Dog Year: rescuing Devon, the most troublesome dog in the world (2008)
- AKA Devon: the totally true story of Devon the naughtiest dog in the world (2010)
- The New Work of Dogs: tending to life, love and family (2003)
- The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: an adventure with sixteen sheep, three dogs, two donkeys and me (2004)
- AKA A Home For Rose: how my life turned upside down for the love of a dog (2009)
- Dog Days: dispatches from Bedlam Farm (2005)
- Katz on Dogs: a commonsense guide to training and living with dogs (2005)
- A Good Dog: the story of Orson who changed my life (2006)
- Izzy and Lenore: two dogs, an unexpected journey, and me (2008)
- Soul of a Dog: reflections on the spirits of the animals at Bedlam Farm (2009)
- Saving Izzy: the abandoned dog who stole my heart (2010)
- The Dog Who Loved - Lenore: the puppy who rescued me (2010)
- AKA Izzy and Lenore: two dogs, an unexpected journey, and me (2008)
- Rose in a Storm: A novel (2010)
- Sign Off (1991)
- Virtuous Reality (1997)
- Media Rants: Post Politics in the Digital Nation: A Netizen Takes on Washington and the Media Empire (1997)
- Running to the Mountain: A Midlife Adventure (1999)
- Geeks (2000)
- "Meet the Writers: Jon Katz". Barnes & Noble.
- "Articles by Jon Katz". Slate.
- Katz, Jon (January 14, 2005). "Train in Vain: Why dog training fails". Slate.
- Petura, Barbara (April, 2002). "Conversation with Jon Katz". WorkingDogWeb.
- Cadenhead, Rogers (25 March 1999). "The Katzdot Effect". stating the obvious.
- Katz, Jon (November 17, 2001). "Message from Kabul". Slashdot.
- Hafner, Katie (November 29, 2001). "Afghan E-Mail Seen as Too Geek to Be True". The New York Times.
- Gorman, James (June 1, 2003). "Dog vs. Spouse". The New York Times.
- McCaig, Donald, "The Dogs of Bedlam Farm" book review," The Bark magazine, number 30 (Spring 2005), pp. 94-95
- Tose, Penny, "Katz on Dogs" book review," The American Border Collie magazine, volume 21, issue 6 (November/December 2005), pp. 40–41
- "More on Katz". BC Boards.
- "True Colors". Working Stockdog.
- "So what happened to Orson?". BC Boards.
- Katz, Jon (September 26, 2006). "A Good Dog In Trouble". Slate.
- Slashdot User JonKatz (user id 7654)
- Being Jon Katz, interview by Julia Lipman for Poppolitics.com
- New York Times article on the Junis story: Afghan E-Mail Seen as Too Geek To Be True
- Author Page at BarnesandNoble.com which includes an interview and biography.
- Articles by Katz on Slate.com
- The Seattle Times review of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm.
- An interview with Katz on NPR's Day to Day
- An interview with Katz on NPR's Fresh Air
- Booknotes interview with Katz on Virtuous Reality, March 23, 1997.
- Katz's personal site