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My first experience with Sarah Glidden’s work was via her debut, How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (published by, of all people, DC Vertigo!). That book saw Glidden take the ‘Birthright Tour,’ an Israeli government funded initiative traversing through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Masada and other places, where she constantly finds a conflict between her pre-conceived notions and what she’s experiencing, and you can’t help but feel an affinity for her as she attempts to navigate knotty political and personal waters.
She has since been making political, informative comics for various online platforms- Cartoon Movement, the Jewish Quarterly and Symbolia Magazine amongst others. This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I find it very difficult to engage with long prose non-fiction texts, so I’m glad to see the slow expansion of the same genre in comics, and so I really appreciate Glidden’s presence in comics, and her smart, thoughtful, and clear take on things.
I was very pleased to hear, then, of Drawn and Quarterly’s announcement at the beginning of this year, regarding the publishing of her second book, Rolling Blackouts (due for release in 2014), another graphic journalism work which finds Glidden following reporters in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
You can find Glidden’s website here and buy her work here.
For those who don’t know, the Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters is four of the biggest names in comic book journalism in one panel held during Thursday evening of San Diego Comic-Con and moderated by another big name in comics journalism, Douglas Wolk. Andy Khouri of Comics Alliance, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, and Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter filed into the panel for an evening of talking about their publications and beliefs about other side of the comics industry most people don’t consider often: reporting about it.
Most of the time, if you look behind the curtain, you might hear about those individuals pecking at each other over various stories and events, but the level of professionalism shown among those panelists was something to be admired. Their job that evening was to inform us about comics journalism and the what life becomes when you follow that profession.
There was a great discussion about readership and how each publication handles their own followers. It clearly reflected each of their aims toward journalism and writing in general. In the end while all the panelists agreed that journalists write for themselves and writing news for the sake of numbers was a secondary priority there is a fine line where good quality reporting does become news or ratings worthy.
When asked about how each of them would make a living on journalism alone, it was mentioned that there has to be a sort of diversifaction in writing professions to be able to stay afloat. The fact that they emphasized being able to maintain a varied skill set was interesting because that seems to be a common topic in the comics industry when acquiring work.
This is one slide from an incredible example of how graphic journalists are mashing up audio, photography and illustration to tell complex and in-depth stories.
This piece from Luke Radl focuses on the NATO protests in Chicago last month. Matt Bors of Cartoon Movement notes in an email that this may be the first cartoon in which all the text is in HTML, therefore search engine friendly.
"An indispensible anthology of an American art form — a broad and brilliantly chosen compilation of the best newspaper column writing past and present — and a real feast. I couldn't stop reading. The stories, yarns, insights and characters — the immediacy and passion — still resonate, still make you laugh, and think."
Deadline Artists goes on-sale on September 1, 2011, but fans of American journalism's greatest hits can pre-order now.
China has long been criticized for its limits on press freedom; one journalist, He Qinglian, has even described Chinese journalists as “dancing in shackles.” In the collection of essays, Changing Media, Changing China, China experts weigh in on the state of Chinese journalism today and discuss the transformation it has undergone in recent years. In this excerpt from the book, editor Susan L. Shirk sheds some light on the factors that have brought about these changes.
Beginning in the early 1980s, the structure of Chinese media changed. Newspapers, magazines, and television stations received cuts in their government subsidies and were driven to enter the market and to earn revenue. In 1979 they were permitted to sell advertising, and in 1983 they were allowed to retain the profits from the sale of ads. Because people were eager for information and businesses wanted to advertise their products, profits were good and the number of publications grew rapidly. As Qian Gang and David Bandurski note in chapter 2, the commercialization of the media accelerated after 2000 as the government sought to strengthen Chinese media organizations to withstand competition from foreign media companies.
By 2005, China published more than two thousand newspapers and nine thousand magazines. In 2003, the CCP eliminated mandatory subscriptions to official newspapers and ended subsidies to all but a few such papers in every province. Even nationally circulated, official papers like People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, and Economics Daily are now sold at retail stalls and compete for audiences. According to their editors, Guangming Daily sells itself as “a spiritual homeland for intellectuals”; Economics Daily markets its timely economic reports; and the People’s Daily promotes its authoritativeness.
About a dozen commercial newspapers with national circulations of over 1 million readers are printed in multiple locations throughout the country. The southern province Guangdong is the headquarters of the cutting-edge commercial media, with three newspaper groups fiercely competing for audiences. Nanjing now has five newspapers competing for the evening readership. People buy the new tabloids and magazines on the newsstands and read them at home in the evening.
Though almost all of these commercial publications are part of media groups led by party or government newspapers, they look and sound completely different. In contrast to the stilted and formulaic language of official publications, the language of the commercial press is lively and colloquial. Because of this difference in style, people are more apt to believe that the content of commercial media is true. Daniela Stockmann’s research shows that consumers seek out commercial publications because they consider them more credible than their counterparts from the official media. According to her research, even in Beijing, which has a particularly large proportion of government employees, only about 36 percent of residents read official papers such as the People’s Daily; the rest read only semiofficial or commercialized papers.
Advertisers and many of the commercial media groups target young and middle-aged urbanites who are well-educated, affluent consumers. But publications also seek to differentiate themselves and appeal to specific audiences. The Guangdong-based publications use domestic muckraking to attract a business-oriented, cosmopolitan audience. Because they push the
The Clarion reminded me a bit of V.V.’s Eyes, and also of K. It’s not really as smart as either of those, but it’s mostly pretty delightful. It turns out that Samuel Hopkins Adams can be charming even when dealing with disease, corruption, betrayal, and the loss of ideals. Although I guess it’s less about the loss of ideal than about their creation, or about growing into them. That’s mostly where my V.V.’s Eyes comparisons come in. I’m comparing it to K mostly because a lot of silly, melodramatic things happen in a sympathetic way.
Whatever is happening to the ideals in question, most of them belong to Harrington Surtaine, who will henceforth be referred to as Hal. Hal is the son of itinerant quack turned millionaire patent medicine manufacturer Dr. L. André Surtaine, formerly Andy Certain, and when the book opens — after a prologue I’m choosing to ignore — the two are reunited after the trip abroad with which Hal has capped his long boarding school and college education. They’ve spent time together on vacations, but Hal has never been to his father’s new home base, the city of Worthington.
Dr. Surtaine hopes Hal will want to join the family business, but if I were him I’d be trying to keep Hal as far away from the Certina factory as I could. Dr. Surtaine’s business is founded on two things: the tasty, alcoholic recipe for Certina, and his amazing skill at advertising. Hal, however, believes that the medicine really works. It’s clear from the beginning that Hal is eventually going to have to learn and deal with the truth; his impulse purchase of the trashiest newspaper in town only raises the stakes.
It’s not a surprise to me that The Clarion was made into a movie only a couple of years after it was first published. It is surprising that it hasn’t been filmed since. I mean, really: a naive young man buys a newspaper and is taken under the wing of a cranky, secretly idealistic journalist and the two of them set out to publish a honest paper in a town full of corrupt ones. Add in the father and son stuff, the inevitable romance, and a moderate amount of gunshots and explosions, and you would think it would be catnip for filmmakers.
It’s almost too formulaic, but the characters make it work. Hal is flawed and sympathetic and makes enough bad decisions to be believable, while Dr. Surtaine is more likeable than he has any right to be. Esmé Elliott, the love interest, is sort of a toned down version of Carlisle Heth from V.V.’s Eyes, although I was never able to like her as much as I wanted to. Milly Neal, Dr. Surtaine’s smartest employee, did not get the ending she deserved, but she did get to be more interesting than anyone else for most of the book. And I’m not really sure how to talk about Hal’s journalistic mentor, McGuire Ellis, because I kind of adore him. I kind of want a whole book of Mac Ellis being awesome, only — well, this is that book.
A big thanks to everyone who joined us last night at the Housing Works Bookstore to enjoy the "Changing World of the Foreign Correspondent" panel moderated by The Paris Correspondent author Alan S. Cowell. Joining the panel to discuss the rapidly changing world of journalism in the digital age were Chrystia Freeland, global editor-at-large of Reuters News; John Darnton, award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Almost a Family and Black and White and Dead All Over; and Peter Godwin, author of Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun.
How does the job of the foreign correspondent change over time? Will on the ground foreign correspondence be necessary in the future? Does the rapid pace of web journalism compromise credibility in foreign reporting? Last night's panelists tackled these big questions about the state of global journalism in the age of Twitter and shared stories from their backgrounds as pioneers in the field of digital media.
At 9:40:30 in the morning of November 14, 1889, an American woman began a trip abroad. It was not just any trip, though: journalist Nellie Bly was out to best the legendary journey of Phileas Fogg, the British gentleman who was the hero of Victor Hugo’s bestselling novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. Bly’s whirlwind world trip was heavily promoted by Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper the New York World.
Born Elizabeth Cochran, the writer who became Nellie Bly became a journalist at 21 when she wrote a letter to the editor of a Pittsburgh paper complaining about his dismissive statements about women in the workplace. Impressed by her writing, he hired her. She gained fame from a series of articles describing corruption and poverty in Mexico, leading the outraged Mexican government to force her to leave the country. Working for Pulitzer’s World, she had herself committed to an insane asylum and then wrote a searing exposé of horrible conditions there. The articles prompted a government investigation.
Bly proposed the round-the-world trip in 1888, but the World demurred initially at having a woman make the journey. Once she left, though, the paper covered the story to the hilt, even running a contest to have viewers guess her return date. Almost a million entries were received. Using steamships and sampans, trains and rickshaws, horses and burros, Bly made rapid time—although she did stop in Paris to meet Verne and his wife. She finished her journey 72 days, 6 hours, and some minutes after her departure. She described the scene: “The station was packed with thousands of people, and the moment I landed on the platform, one yell went up from them, and the cannons at the Battery and Fort Greene boomed out the news of my arrival.”
I interviewed Stephen King for the UK Sunday Times Magazine. The interview appeared a few weeks ago. The Times keeps its site paywalled, so I thought I'd post the original version of the interview here. (This is the raw copy, and it's somewhat longer than the interview as published.)
I don't do much journalism any more, and this was mostly an excuse to drive across Florida back in February and spend a day with some very nice people I do not get to see enough.
I hope you enjoy it.
Edit to add - the Sunday Times asked me to write something small and personal about King and me for the contributors' notes, and I wrote this:
“I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King's book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you'd have a novel. It was immensely reassuring - suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it's how I've written books I haven't had the time to write, like my children's novel Coraline.”
“Meeting Stephen King this time, the thing that struck me is how very comfortable he is with what he does. All the talk of retiring from writing, of quitting, the suggestions that maybe it's time to stop before he starts repeating himself, seems to be done. He likes writing, likes it more than anything else that he could be doing, and does not seem at all inclined to stop. Except perhaps at gunpoint.”
The first time I met Stephen King was in Boston, in 1992. I sat in his hotel suite, met his wife Tabitha, who is Tabby in conversation, and his then-teenage sons Joe and Owen, and we talked about writing and about authors, about fans and about fame.
“If I had my life over again,” said King. “I'd've done everything the same. Even the bad bits. But I wouldn't have done the American Express “Do You Know Me?” TV ad. After that, everyone in America knew what I looked like.”
He was tall and dark haired, and Joe and Owen looked like much younger clones of their father, fresh out of the cloning vat.
The next time I met Stephen King, in 2002, he pulled me up onstage to play kazoo with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a ramshackle assemblage of authors who can play instruments and sing and, in the case of author Amy Tan, impersonate a dominatrix while singing Nancy Sinatra's “These Boots are Made For Walkin'”.
Afterwards we talked in the tiny toilet in the back of the theatre, the only place King could smoke a furtive cigarette. He seemed frail, then, and gr
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La Bloga readers have various reasons for coming here, not the least of which is news we share from the Spanish-speaking world--from Spain's SemanaNegra to cultural news from all over the Southwest. Despite being primarily an arts/literary blog, real-world events necessarily affect our art and how we live in each of our niches.
The Internet, the WWW have provided us with floods of information--as countless as the over a billion Tweets or two hundred million blogs in existence (incl. Chinese). But the reliability of news and searches for "the truth" threaten to be buried by the staggering number of pieces out there. At the same time, mainstream sources of reliable journalism are declining. We the public, Chicano and otherwise, don't necessarily know as much as we once did.
For instance, how many know there have been at least ten suicides at Ft. Hood this year, an increase in domestic violence on-base and a rise in local crime? And who in the world of journalism is analyzing that for us and tying it to Obama's adding another 40,000 troops to "our" wars?
Information on Mexico and the shared border is important to us, not only because of our proximity or cultural ties, but the nature of that border is changing. Narco violence has crossed the river and no one can say how far north it will travel or how it might change our lives in Phoenix, San Antonio and even Denver.
None of this relates to you? Heading south of the border for an affordable vacation soon? Do you know which beaches are hygienically dangerous, unfit for swimming?
Are you an academic whose dissertation or published piece suffers because your pocho Spanish won't let you navigate la idioma journalistic waters?
Or are you in education and public service where you daily work with Mexican immigrants, but lack info about what it is that made them leave their mother country?
I speak only for myself when I say that my world revolves around the Southwest. I tend not to realize I need to encompass more to understand how and why things are transforming around me.
Luckily, years ago I found FronteraNorteSur. Their purpose: "FNS provides on-line news coverage of the US-Mexico border." They do this by analyzing and summarizing U.S., Me
An unexpected outcome of the publication of HTOED was the interest it generated in both UK and overseas media. On the whole, encounters with the press have been an enjoyable experience, and they’ve done us proud with articles, reviews, and interviews, but sometimes I find myself conning over the less flattering words for members of the journalistic profession (hack, penciller, tripe-hound, ink-slinger, creeper, thumb-sucker, press gang), and plotting my revenge.
So what interests the media? I learned to carry with me at all times a list of ‘favourite words’ to distribute on request. During the final stages of the project, I had asked the proofreaders to keep an eye open for anything suitable – unfortunately what they considered entertaining was often not what one would want to spell out over the phone or see in a family newspaper. However, I managed to offload such rare gems as spanghew ‘to cause a frog or toad to rise in the air’ (unfortunately mis-spelled as it whizzed round the world), purfle ‘to decorate with a purfle’, and ostrobogulous ‘indecent, somewhat bizarre’. I’m still waiting for a victim for Old English paddanieg ‘an island with frogs on it’ or weirding peas, a Scottish term for peas employed in divination.
Anecdotes were much in demand. Fortunately, we had one anecdote to cap them all, the Great Fire of 1978, when the building housing the project went on fire (as Glaswegians disingenuously say). At that time, all our research was contained in a single set of paper slips, which luckily were housed in metal cabinets and escaped unscathed. Recounting this for the twentieth time, it was tempting to embellish the narrative, rescuing screaming infants, or at least professors, from the flames rather than smouldering volumes of the OED.
Human interest questions varied in subtlety: “how many years have you worked on the project”, “how old were you when you started”, or simply, “how old are you?” Colleagues threatened to get me a badge like the ones children have on their birthdays, emblazoned with ‘I am 69’ to forestall such questions. Many reporters seemed to find it incredible that anyone would work on a project for 44 years, as several of us did. Some hinted that this was at the expense of a more fulfilling life, but I was nevertheless startled that in 2009 a newspaper would produce a headline describing me as a “lingo-loving spinster”, and one, moreover, who “coyly confessed” to celebrating publication with a glass of champagne.
I am not really a morning person, so the number of breakfast radio programmes requesting live (or fairly live) interviews was something of a trial (unless they were in Australia, which was fine, as the interviews took place in the evening). On publication day, I set off at 6.30 a.m. for the BBC headquarters in Glasgow, and by 7.45 had chatted brightly to four radio stations. At that point a colleague and I were handed a news story about an Australian golf course and asked to ‘translate’ it using HTOED synonyms, thus providing an uplifting finale to the programme at 8.55. HTOED does not abound in synonyms for the creatures which apparently haunt Australian golf courses, such as kangaroos, camels, dingos, and hairy-nosed wombats. We felt that we had done pretty well to produce boomers, ships of the desert, warrigals, and hirsute-nebbed badgers. Then we returned to campus to deal with three television crews.
One learned to be tolerant of minor inaccuracies (OED is a dictionary, OUP is a publisher; HTOED contains 800,000 different meanings, not 800,000 different words). Often I longed to launch into my first-year lectures on the history of the English language, while refusing even to attempt to answer such questions as “What is the oldest word in English?”
The closing question was often on the lines of “What are you going to do now?” as if life had come to a stop when the last slip was entered in the database (by coincidence, or careful planning, the last slip was the word thesaurus itself). One interviewer had thought this through, however, taking due account of age and gender, and asked: “And now you’ve finished, have you got something else you’d like to get back to, like your garden, or a big piece of knitting?” I’d like to put it on record that I do not have, and never have had, “a big piece of knitting”.
On February 19th, 2010 Irene Watson and Victor R. Volkman spoke with fulltime freelance writer, proofreader, and editor Ernest Dempsey. He shared encouraging information on how you can get started in the fun and profitable art of freelance writing. In addition to having written 4 books, he is now the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing and also works as the country editor for Pakistan on the celebrated Internet news channel Instablogs.com. He shared with us on the following points:
Where are some places that I can go to look for freelance web writing?
Is it “ghost writing” or does sometimes my name get shown?
What about being a Foreign Correspondent for a news organization in another country?
How does getting paid work?
How do you manage personal time, schedules, and deadlines?
What types of writing projects are available: interviews, reviews, tutorials and how well does each pay relative to the others
How have you improved your knowledge of English by writing over time?
How does freelancing compare to a “regular job”? Do you get to travel more?
Karim Khan, pen named Ernest Dempsey, hails from Hangu, a small town in Pakistan. As a child, he enjoyed two things: The joyful company of his brother and Khan’s best friend, Shais; and making airy castles with lots of characters in his mind. At twelve, he started writing detective stories, horror, thrillers, and humor. He has a Masters degree in Geology and one in English Literature.He has authored four books including his latest The Blue Fairy and other Tales of Transcendence and, in just the last few years, seen the publication of his poems, essays, short stories, and literary reviews worldwide. Khan is now looking forward to completing his first novel.
Joan Fitzgerald is Professor and Director of the Law, Policy and Society Program at Northeastern University. Her new book, Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, is a refreshing look at how American cities are leading the way toward greener, cleaner, and more sustainable forms of economic development. Emerald Cities is very readable and Marco Trbovich of the Huffington Post wrote, “Fitzgerald combines the academic discipline of an urban planner with the rigors of shoe-leather journalism in crafting a book that documents where real progress is being made….” In the original post below Fitzgerald shares how she found the fine balance between “academic discipline” and “shoe-leather journalism”.
Emerald Cities is my first true crossover book—a serious piece of scholarly research rendered as a journalistic narrative for a wider readership. In recent years, I have had plenty of practice on this front, writing several oped pieces for the Boston Globe and longer features for The American Prospect, a monthly magazine that often draws on academics to write many of its policy-oriented articles.
My journalist and editor husband, Bob Kuttner, has long urged me to discover the joys of the interview, both on the record and on background. And indeed, when you follow a formal research design or rely purely on data, you don’t get to ask impertinent questions. You are at risk of missing what is really going on.
When I first started writing more popular pieces, Bob would say, “Get some quotes” and “talk to people off-the-record.” So I did. Interviewing facilitates networking. One interview leads to another. I was intrigued at how much I learned—say about an industry such as solar or wind and the true state of play as opposed to the self-serving claims—in a few phone calls with industry insiders. If one is intellectually honest, this kind of interview is a legitimate scholarly technique as well as a tool of narrative journalism.
Journalistic reportage also helps bring prose alive. Reporting on data without bringing in a human element makes for dry reading. Another discipline of writing in a more journalistic style is that your ideas need to be compressed into a lot less space. The standard academic article is 25 pages. An oped piece is typically three typescript pages and a Prospect policy article between six and eight. It is amazing how many words some academic writers waste, telling you what they are going to tell you, then telling it, and then telling you what they told you.
The discipline of tight, lucid writing also clarifies one’s thinking process. In fact, I now require my policy students to write regular short assignments or op-ed-style pieces. At first, they hate them—they find it easier to write 10 pages than 2, which reminds me of the old saying, “I would have written it shorter but I didn’t have the time.” It does take time, and many drafts. Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, a scholar much admired for his incisive prose was once told by an admirer how “
A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending BEA2010 (no not the BEA happening this week) which was part of the 2010NAB conference. I was there to celebrate the launch of the BBC College of Journalism Website (COJO) a collaboration between OUP and the BBC. The site allows citizens outside of the UK access to the online learning and development materials created for BBC journalists. It is a vast resource filled to the brim with videos, audio clips, discussion pages, interactive modules and text pages covering every aspect of TV, radio, and online journalism. At the conference I had a chance to talk with Kevin Marsh, the Executive Editor of COJO, and I will be sharing clips from our conversation for the next few weeks. To start us off I have posted a clip which emphasizes the value of truth in journalism. Read Kevin’s blog here.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending BEA2010 (no not the BEA that happened last week) which was part of the 2010NAB conference. I was there to celebrate the launch of the BBC College of Journalism Website (COJO) a collaboration between OUP and the BBC. The site allows citizens outside of the UK access to the online learning and development materials created for BBC journalists. It is a vast resource filled to the brim with videos, audio clips, discussion pages, interactive modules and text pages covering every aspect of TV, radio, and online journalism. At the conference I had a chance to talk with Kevin Marsh, the Executive Editor of COJO, and I will be sharing clips from our conversation for the next few weeks. This week I have posted a clip which emphasizes the true hard work that journalism involves. Read Kevin’s blog here. Watch last week’s video here.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending BEA2010 (no not the BEA that happened last week) which was part of the 2010NAB conference. I was there to celebrate the launch of the BBC College of Journalism Website (COJO) a collaboration between OUP and the BBC. The site allows citizens outside of the UK access to the online learning and development materials created for BBC journalists. It is a vast resource filled to the brim with videos, audio clips, discussion pages, interactive modules and text pages covering every aspect of TV, radio, and online journalism. At the conference I had a chance to talk with Kevin Marsh, the Executive Editor of COJO, and I will be sharing clips from our conversation for the next few weeks. This week I have posted a clip in which Kevin shares why he choose journalism as a career. Read Kevin’s blog here. Watch the other videos in this series here and here.
Over the past two weeks, my writing has shifted somewhat toward journalism. I can’t define the why or when of the shift in emphasis. I can merely observe it and see where it takes me.
One of those destinations was Associated Content. I began writing for them, an article here, one there, finding my way by instinct and inclination. I’ve enjoyed it and look forward to doing many more each month. If you’d like to check out what I’ve been up to on that front, you can check out two of my articles at:
I hope you enjoy them or can use something within them.
I’ve also arrived at a point where I miss doing my writer/editor/illustrator interviews each week. I can say that now that my life is somewhat more settled than it has been in a long while.
So that feature is going to come back. I’ve decided to begin with one interview each week, and work my way back up to more frequent segments as work allows. I look forward to talking with so many people in the publishing business, whether behind the desk or on the submission’s end. Hopefully, I will be able to begin those interviews within a couple of weeks.
For those interested in what I’m actually spending my time on other than the occasional article for online reading, I am working on three books at the moment. One children’s easy reader chapter book, one book of poetry for adults, and another book of specially designed poetry for readers 13 to just this side of the beyond.
Queries will be going out to agents on the chapter book within the week. I have my own deadline for the special poetry book placed at Aug. 31, and the other one should come together and be ready for query duty by the end of the month as well.
Besides those projects I have two YA fantasy novels, one urban and the other high fantasy, that I’m working on at this time. I waffle between manuscripts to keep things interesting.
The odd blog and short story also get thrown into the mix each week and I write poetry for FB’s Micro Poetry and WD’s Poetic Asides.
So, you can see that I’m keeping busy. When I’m not at the keyboard, I’m usually out with my sister on photo shoots. She just became a professional fine art photographer. And a fine job she does, too. While I’m out with her, I get lots of material for poetry and storylines. Amazing how that works.
And there you have it. My normal week. I socialize online and off. Have the occasional meal. [There are those who say I never skip one.] I do my household chores when necessary. And try, above all else, to enjoy life while I have one.
I hope everyone has a marvelous week. I have to take a few days away on a wee trip. So while I’m gone, enjoy yourselves. I’ll be back on the weekend with something new. Who knows what, but something.
Images of people about to die surface repeatedly in the news and their appearance raises questions: What equips an image to deliver the news; how much does the public need to know to make sense of what they see; and what do these images contribute to historical memory? These images call on us to rethink both journalism and its public response, and in so doing they suggest both an alternative voice in the news – a subjunctive voice of the visual that pushes the ‘as if’ of news over its ‘as is’ dimensions – and an alternative mode of public engagement with journalism – an engagement fueled not by reason and understanding but by imagination and emotion.
Barbie Zelizer is Raymond Williams Chair of Communication and the Director of the Scholars Program in Culture and Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the editor of several collections and the author of Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye,Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory, and most recently About to Die: How News Images Move the Public.
It's a snowy day here in NYC, but we got some great news this morning when we opened ForeWord's review of The Piano Player in the Brothel: The Future of Journalism, by Juan Luis Cebrian. The review says that the book is "a thoughtful collection of essays exploring the storied past and shifting present of reporting, a call to encourage what is best in journalism as we move into the tumultuous era of online news." It goes on to conclude that Cebrian's work is "a thoughtful collection of essays exploring the storied past and shifting present of reporting, a call to encourage what is best in journalism as we move into the tumultuous era of online news."
The whole review is below. This book goes on sale March 3, so current and aspiring journalists and media-watchers, take note. Happy reading!
The Piano Player in the Brothel: The Future of Journalism Juan Luis Cebrian Eduardo Schmid, translator Overlook Press Hardcover $24.95 (192pp) 978-1-59020-394-1
Veteran journalist Juan Luis Cebrain finds his occupation embattled on many fronts: Newspapers losing readers to the immediate news available online; the globalizing effects of the world wide web are reshaping languages all over the globe; one hundred million blogs exists, with roughly one thousand added each day. What is the role of journalism, and journalists, in a landscape that changes so rapidly? The Piano Player in the Brothel is Cebrain’s answer, a thoughtful collection of essays exploring the storied past and shifting present of reporting, a call to encourage what is best in journalism as we move into the tumultuous era of online news.
Cebrian’s title is taken from a popular joke: one man admits to another that he is a journalist, but pleads “Don’t tell my mother I’m a journalist. She thinks I play piano at the whorehouse.” A comments on the fluid state of journalism, at times contemptible, other times noble, always changing in relation to the people it serves. No one knows this better than Cebrain. After starting his career under the Franco regime and becoming the director of El Pais, Spain’s largest newspaper, Cebrain is an authority on the democratizing effects of an open press.
Cebrian uses this first-hand knowledge to color his essays, mapping the historically tenuous relationship between journalist, government, and reader. He visits America for his example of maintaining journalistic integrity, noting, “Watergate was a reminder of journalism’s role as a watchdog against corruption and has come to symbolize journalistic independence, a check against political power.” He describes the difficulty of telling the truth under the Franco regime, where journalists were routinely bullied by the government’s Press Agency. Cebrain’s analysis of the role of journalism in the war on terror is nuanced and thoughtful: he applauds the media’s show of respect by not showing the bodies of victims on television, but finds reprehensible the large television networks’ manipulation of viewers while covering the Iraq War..
Some of the most salient questions in modern journalism are raised in this collection. What is the role of traditional journalism in a world of blogs? Can a society retain its unique culture in the face of the globalizing behemoth of the Internet? Is it possible for newspapers to maint
I have slightly mixed feelings about this as I occasionally teach a class on how to write a press release that is so like a 'proper' news story that it will get published just the way you've written it. Good PR is about getting the message across and winning those all important column inches, of course, and in the case of my students the message is usually something along the lines of local-author-signs-books-at-out-of-town-community-centre and they need all the help they can get to have anyone pop along who hasn't been bribed by the promise of a pint afterwards or is related by blood... But what about the big stories? Are they the product of a journalist asking questions or a very biased press release? You can find out by visiting Churnalism, an independant website set up by a media charity. (Click on the title of this post to go straight there.) All you have do is paste in any news story that raises your suspicions. ‘Churnalism’ is defined as a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added. I predict that we are going to see more and more churned out stories as staffing levels in editorial departments are slashed. And when it comes to things that matter we do need people to ask questions.
Following the lead of papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, and the Berkeley Barb, young Americans in the 1960s launched hundreds of mimeographed pamphlets and flyers, small press magazines, and underground newspapers. New, cheaper printing technologies democratized the publishing process and by the decade’s end the combined circulation of underground papers stretched into the millions. Though not technically illegal, these papers were often genuinely subversive, and many of those who produced and sold them-on street-corners, at poetry readings, gallery openings, and coffeehouses-became targets of harassment from local and federal authorities. With writers who actively participated in the events they described, underground newspapers captured the zeitgeist of the ’60s, speaking directly to their readers, and reflecting and magnifying the spirit of cultural and political protest.
In the deeply researched and eloquently written volume Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, author John McMillian captures all the youthful idealism and vibrant tumult of the 1960s as it delivers a brilliant reappraisal of the origins and development of the New Left rebellion. McMillian pays special attention to the ways underground newspapers fostered a sense of community and played a vital role in shaping the New Left’s highly democratic “movement culture.” Below, we present a conversation with McMillian, who is also Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University and the co-editor of The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of an American Radical Tradition, The New Left Revisited, Protest Nation: The Radical Roots of Modern America, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
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How did you get interested in the 60s, and what made you want to write about that period?
I’ve had a longstanding layperson’s interest in the 1960s, going all the way back to high school, when I became a huge Beatles fan. I read about them obsessively, and then a little later on started getting interested in other iconic groups and personalities from the era: Abbie Hoffman, the Black Panthers, even Charles Manson (as weird as that sounds). But it wasn’t until a bit later – after I started my Ph.D. at Columbia in the mid-to-late 1990s – that it even occurred to me that this was a topic I could study professionally.
Up until that point, most of the writing on the 60s had been accomplished by people who had lived through the decade, and who (at least by some accounts) seemed a little protective of the field. But soon I discovered that a newer generation of scholars – made up of people who are just a little bit older than myself – were beginning to do some really fascinating work on the period. Meanwhile, I’d encountered essays by Maurice Isserman and Rick Perlstein, both of which were persuasive and encouraging about the idea that the scholarship on the 60s scholarship could use an infusion of fresh voices and new approaches. And then once I started doing just a little bit of work on the New Left, I realized there were so many amazing troves of untapped primary sources relating to the 60s (the underground newspapers are foremost among then). Most of the time, I really enjoy doing archival w
Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at the achievements of Walter Cronkite. See his previous OUPblogs here.
For most of the second half of the twentieth century, Walter Cronkite was always there whenever history moved. Before the word “embedded” came into fashion, he flew on the first bombing raids over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress. Before he covered the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam and Watergate, he was also right there at the Battle of the Bulge. He covered the first nationally televised Democratic and Republican National Conventions - out of which the term “anchor” (and the Swedish term “Kronkiter”) was coined to describe his role. Walter Cronkite was always there; he was the anchor of all anchors.
But while Cronkite was always there, he understood that it was never about him, but about the facts. Today however, his model of reporting is praised by everyone, but emulated by no one. Not by Lou Dobbs, or Keith Olbermann, and not even by his replacement at CBS, Dan Rather, who tried to meddle in politics rather than to report it. CNN has a name for this narcissistic reporting style: “I-report.” I don’t think Walter Cronkite believed that there was an “I” in the news, however much an event lent itself to self-reflection.
So Cronkite’s legacy lives on only in advertising slogans. CNN may be “the most trusted name in news,” and Fox news may be “Fair and Balanced.” But “the most trusted man in America” would tell us that self-praise is no praise and that objectivity should be practiced, not trumpeted.
To be sure, it isn’t that today’s journalists are unrepentant gossips or opinion exhibitionists (though some are). It is that their bosses know that opinion and feisty debate sells. It is because experts in mass communications and social psychology have discovered that listeners and viewers like to hear what they want to hear, especially opinions that cohere with their own. That is why our journalistic umpires venture their opinions, and if they don’t, they pose incendiary questions to get their interviewers to say something about their political opponents that would start a war of words. While Walter Cronkite covered the news, the news establishment today wants to drive it.
Cronkite was a first-rate journalist who understood that it is always about the news, never about the reporter, transmitting the news faithfully while at the scene but never making a scene. He didn’t
engage in story making, he didn’t engage in frivolous banter about the role of the media in order to insinuate the self-congratulatory premise that he is a mover and shaker and master of the universe. Walter Cronkite knew that it was never about Walter Cronkite. It was his principled commitment to reticence that made his exceptional departure in declaring the war in Vietnam unwinnable so compelling. In his self-abnegation lay his considerable credibility.
Walter Cronkite was confident enough in the processes of American democracy, and humble enough to know the difference between newscaster and newsmaker, to desist from meddling from either the meaning or movement of politics. Without touch-screen monitors or a teleprompter, he brought us the news. Plain and simple. He wasn’t cool, he wasn’t a model, and he was even, by his own admission, “dull at times.” Though his career is a period piece in the age of facebook and twitter, we will do well to remain anchored in his journalistic values.
Donald Ritchie, author of Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps, Our Constitution, and The Congress of the United States: A Student Companion, reflects on Walter Cronkite’s death. Ritchie has been Associate Historian of the United States Senate for more than three decades.
The veteran news anchor Walter Cronkite died disappointed with the trends in network evening news programs since his retirement in 1981. Cronkite had aspired to make the CBS Evening News the New York Times of television, but after he left the air he thought the program went tabloid, reducing serious coverage of foreign and national events in favor of human interest stories, health and consumer reporting. He regarded this as “trivializing,” and lamented the general decline in standards of television news.
The root of problem was the limited time available for news in a half-hour format. Cronkite had begun anchoring when the network news had just fifteen minutes a night, following or preceding fifteen minutes of local news from the network’s affiliates. Over the Labor Day weekend in 1963, CBS inaugurated the half-hour format, featuring Cronkite interviewing President John F. Kennedy at Hyannisport. NBC used CBS’s initiative to overcome resistance from its own affiliates and expand its popular Huntley-Brinkley Report to a half hour. Soon afterwards, surveys showed that more Americans relied on TV than newspapers as their chief source of news. But even at a half hour, with seven minutes subtracted for commercials, there were only twenty-three minutes for news. Cronkite’s program devoted an average of eight minutes each night to its Washington bureau, whose stellar squad of correspondents–including Roger Mudd, Dan Rather, Marvin Kalb, Daniel Schorr, Nancy Dickerson, Bernard Shaw, and Leslie Stahl–jockeyed for air time. They boasted that their deadline of 6:30 PM EST became the deadline for the entire federal government.
Cronkite wanted to expand his news program to an hour, opening with hard news and then turning to lighter features. Even at the height of network domination in the 1960s and ‘70s, half of all television owners never bothered to watch the evening news and only one in fifty watched the network news every night. News drew its viewers from older, better-educated, middle- and upper-income professionals, who were disproportionately male. To expand their audience the networks needed to attract more women, racial and ethnic minorities, and younger people–consumers that advertisers were anxious to reach. The networks’ affiliates pioneered with local news programs heavy on crime, disaster, scandal, celebrities, and sports, which Cronkite dismissed as more show business than news reporting. No matter, local news grew so profitable that the affiliates resisted his efforts to expand network news to an hour.
The passing of the old era became evident as early as August 16, 1977, when Elvis Presley died. ABC News–being managed by the sports producer Roone Arledge–led off with Presley, while on CBS Cronkite opened with a report on the pending Panama Canal treaty. (Compare that to the way all of the networks covered Michael Jackson.) With Cronkite’s retirement, the local news approach finally penetrated the CBS Evening News. Cable networks challenged the three original networks–whose share of the news audience shrank from 98 percent in the 1960s to less than half today–and Cronkite lamented that too often the newcomers replaced sober news analysis with “polarizing diatribes.” He regretted that networks’ business managers replaced serious news documentaries with “trashy syndicated ‘news’ shows” on prime time. The Federal Communications Commission dropped the public service requirements for broadcast licensing, and the networks’ new corporate owners saw news budgets as ripe for trimming. CBS’s Washington bureau, which employed 21 correspondents at its peak under Cronkite, shrank to nine by the end of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, a new generation of news consumers was turning to the Internet as its major source, abandoning the evenings news along with the newspaper. The number of patent medicines sponsoring the evening news clearly demonstrate its aging demographics. “And that’s the way it is,” Cronkite had famously signed off his program, but what he saw of television news was not the way he wanted it to be.
One of the points I tried to emphasize in my talk about libraries and civic engagement (PDF) at last month’s Allen County Public Library’s Library Camp is that this isn’t a new role for us. The easy, soundbite way to explain this is to note that at the turn of the previous century, one of our major roles was to help immigrants assimilate into American society and learn how to be U.S. citizens. At the turn of the current century, there’s a similar need for us to do the same thing for digital immigrants, in no small part because there really isn’t anyone else to help those folks who are past high school age.
I’ve been gravitating towards this topic lately because I see so much potential, for both libraries and society, and the following idea makes total sense to me.
“David Nordfors, who runs the innovation journalism program at Stanford, stays studens are moving towards a journalisatic method of learning – finding knowledge, assesing it, and then connecting the dots to build a story.”
We’re already well-positioned in our communities to be the conveners for this type of activity, we have a library ecosystem for lifelong learning that includes adults (not just K-12 students), we have supporting resources (not just technology, but context), we teach how to navigate information, and we’re the last, safe, non-commercial space that’s open to anyone without any barriers. In fact, quite a few sections of the 2020 sitescream “libraries” to me, and I encourage you to read through the various sections.
So while I’m intrigued by and fully support the idea of schools encouraging “innovation journalists,” those programs won’t reach their full potential – nor will the students – without libraries to support them. And when those students get out into the real world, libraries can facilitate their non-school efforts. And we can bring them together with the rest of the community to put those new civic literacies into practice for everyone.
And don’t get me started on the participatory divide….
Still submitting and waiting for that first acceptance. I mean, I ain't gettin' any younger! Be that as it may...I'm back working on a play I started perhaps ten years ago with many edits and tinkering along the way. The more I read it - the more I realize that I really like it so I'm sharing the first ten or so pages with the world - or whoever happens to drop by. I should be so lucky!
Will provide updates as to its progress along the way. Meanwhile, enjoy. Feedback welcome.
by Eleanor Tylbor
AT RISE: Funeral chapel. A group of people chat between themselves while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room
FELICIA PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous dress, sits on the floor next to a coffin examining her surroundings. Slowly, she examines her body, touching her arms and legs
LIGHTING: Dim lighting, except for a coffin in the middle of the room, which is spot-lit with a white light.
SOUND: somber organ music.
FELICIA What the hell… Really must'a tied one on last night. Weird though. No hangover like usual… No feelings, period
Staggering to a standing position she walks around the coffin, touching the surface while trying to peer inside. A somberly dressed male passes by, seemingly without noticing or acknowledging her presence
(cont’d) 'Scuse me…hello'?'
Man continues to ignore her, focusing and fixing the inside of the coffin
Is this a… for real funeral parlor? Shoot! What’s the matter with me? Uh duh! This is another of Phil’s jokes. Wait 'til I get him…
Man continues to ignore her
Don’t bother answering me or anything… Fine – your funeral. Hey - cracked a funeral joke! Anyway, I'll find out on my own!
A man (JOSIAH) enters and stands directly behind FELICIA. He has white hair, is dressed in a white shirt and matching white pants that glitter
JOSIAH Perhaps I could be of assistance in some way?
FELICIA Ho-ly shit. What do we have here? A human Christmas tree ornament
JOSIAH I beg your pardon? Were you talking to me?
FELICIA Do you come with your own sound effects, too?
JOSIAH We're quite witty, aren’t we? Just a suggestion here and take it for what’s it’s worth but your colorful use of language could prove to be problematic
FELICIA Do tell! You an agent for the grammar police?
JOSIAH Excuse me? Police?
FELICIA Aha! A little nervous are we, when I mention “po-lice”? Perhaps you’ve dealt with them on occasion?
JOSIAH In my business we deal with all types and police officers are very common where I work
FELICIA Not surprised. You earn your living dressed like… that?
FELICIA I bet you are – and then some
Holds up her arm and exaggerates a very feminine walk