The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft

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Forty years after Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay Talese launched the New Journalism movement, Robert S. Boynton sits down with nineteen practitioners of what he calls the New New Journalism to discuss their methods, writings and careers.

The New New Journalists are first and foremost brilliant reporters who immerse themselves completely in their subjects. Jon Krakauer accompanies a mountaineering expedition to Everest. Ted Conover works for nearly a year as a prison guard. Susan Orlean follows orchid fanciers to reveal an obsessive subculture few knew existed. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spends nearly a decade reporting on a family in the South Bronx. And like their muckraking early twentieth-century precursors, they are drawn to the most pressing issues of the day: Alex Kotlowitz, Leon Dash, and William Finnegan to race and class; Ron Rosenbaum to the problem of evil; Michael Lewis to boom-and-bust economies; Richard Ben Cramer to the nitty gritty of politics. How do they do it? In these interviews, they reveal the techniques and inspirations behind their acclaimed works, from their felt-tip pens, tape recorders, long car rides, and assumed identities; to their intimate understanding of the way a truly great story unfolds.

Interviews with:
Gay Talese
Jane Kramer
Calvin Trillin
Richard Ben Cramer
Ted Conover
Alex Kotlowitz
Richard Preston
William Langewiesche
Eric Schlosser
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Jon Krakauer
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Ron Rosenbaum
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
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About the author

Robert S. Boynton is the director of the Literary Reportage program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He graduated with honors in philosophy and religion from Haverford College, and received an MA in political science from Yale University. He has been a senior editor at Harper's and a contributing writer for The New Yorker. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Rolling Stone and many other publications.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9780307429049
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Language Arts & Disciplines / Composition & Creative Writing
Language Arts & Disciplines / Journalism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Bill Kovach
In July 1997, twenty-five of America's most influential journalists sat down to try and discover what had happened to their profession in the years between Watergate and Whitewater. What they knew was that the public no longer trusted the press as it once had. They were keenly aware of the pressures that advertisers and new technologies were putting on newsrooms around the country. But, more than anything, they were aware that readers, listeners, and viewers — the people who use the news — were turning away from it in droves.

There were many reasons for the public's growing lack of trust. On television, there were the ads that looked like news shows and programs that presented gossip and press releases as if they were news. There were the "docudramas," television movies that were an uneasy blend of fact and fiction and which purported to show viewers how events had "really" happened. At newspapers and magazines, celebrity was replacing news, newsroom budgets were being slashed, and editors were pushing journalists for more "edge" and "attitude" in place of reporting. And, on the radio, powerful talk personalities led their listeners from sensation to sensation, from fact to fantasy, while deriding traditional journalism. Fact was blending with fiction, news with entertainment, journalism with rumor.

Calling themselves the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the twenty-five determined to find how the news had found itself in this state. Drawn from the committee's years of intensive research, dozens of surveys of readers, listeners, viewers, editors, and journalists, and more than one hundred intensive interviews with journalists and editors, The Elements of Journalism is the first book ever to spell out — both for those who create and those who consume the news — the principles and responsibilities of journalism. Written by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, two of the nation's preeminent press critics, this is one of the most provocative books about the role of information in society in more than a generation and one of the most important ever written about news. By offering in turn each of the principles that should govern reporting, Kovach and Rosenstiel show how some of the most common conceptions about the press, such as neutrality, fairness, and balance, are actually modern misconceptions. They also spell out how the news should be gathered, written, and reported even as they demonstrate why the First Amendment is on the brink of becoming a commercial right rather than something any American citizen can enjoy.

The Elements of Journalism is already igniting a national dialogue on issues vital to us all. This book will be the starting point for discussions by journalists and members of the public about the nature of journalism and the access that we all enjoy to information for years to come.


From the Hardcover edition.
William Finnegan
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days, this narrative nonfiction classic documents the rising inequality and cultural alienation that presaged the crises of today.
 
“A status report on the American Dream [that] gets its power [from] the unpredictable, rich specifics of people’s lives.”—Time
 
“[William] Finnegan’s real achievement is to attach identities to the steady stream of faceless statistics that tell us America’s social problems are more serious than we want to believe.”—The Washington Post
 
A fifteen-year-old drug dealer in blighted New Haven, Connecticut; a sleepy Texas town transformed by crack; Mexican American teenagers in Washington State, unable to relate to their immigrant parents and trying to find an identity in gangs; jobless young white supremacists in a downwardly mobile L.A. suburb. William Finnegan spent years embedded with families in four communities across the country to become an intimate observer of the lives he reveals in Cold New World. What emerges from these beautifully rendered portraits is a prescient and compassionate book that never loses sight of its subjects’ humanity.
 
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • A LOS ANGELES TIMES BEST NONFICTION SELECTION

Praise for Cold New World
 
“Unlike most journalists who drop in for a quick interview and fly back out again, Finnegan spent many weeks with families in each community over a period of several years, enough time to distinguish between the kind of short-term problems that can beset anyone and the longer-term systemic poverty and social disintegration that can pound an entire generation into a groove of despair.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“The most remarkable of William Finnegan’s many literary gifts is his compassion. Not the fact of it, which we have a right to expect from any personal reporting about the oppressed, but its coolness, its clarity, its ductile strength. . . . Finnegan writes like a dream. His prose is unfailingly lucid, graceful, and specific, his characterization effortless, and the pull of his narrative pure seduction.”—The Village Voice

“Four astonishingly intimate and evocative portraits. . . . All of these stories are vividly, honestly and compassionately told. . . . While Cold New World may make us look in new ways at our young people, perhaps its real goal is to make us look at ourselves.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Janet Malcolm
A seminal work and examination of the psychopathology of journalism. Using a strange and unprecedented lawsuit as her larger-than-life example -- the lawsuit of Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, against Joe McGinniss, the author of Fatal Vision, a book about the crime -- she delves into the always uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject. In Malcolm's view, neither journalist nor subject can avoid the moral impasse that is built into the journalistic situation. When the text first appeared, as a two-part article in The New Yorker, its thesis seemed so radical and its irony so pitiless that journalists across the country reacted as if stung.

Her book is a work of journalism as well as an essay on journalism: it at once exemplifies and dissects its subject. In her interviews with the leading and subsidiary characters in the MacDonald-McGinniss case -- the principals, their lawyers, the members of the jury, and the various persons who testified as expert witnesses at the trial -- Malcolm is always aware of herself as a player in a game that, as she points out, she cannot lose. The journalist-subject encounter has always troubled journalists, but never before has it been looked at so unflinchingly and so ruefully. Hovering over the narrative -- and always on the edge of the reader's consciousness -- is the MacDonald murder case itself, which imparts to the book an atmosphere of anxiety and uncanniness. The Journalist and the Murderer derives from and reflects many of the dominant intellectual concerns of our time, and it will have a particular appeal for those who cherish the odd, the off-center, and the unsolved.
Jonathan Kern
Perhaps you’ve always wondered how public radio gets that smooth, well-crafted sound. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a podcast, and want some tips from the pros. Or maybe storytelling has always been a passion of yours, and you want to learn to do it more effectively. Whatever the case—whether you’re an avid NPR listener or you aspire to create your own audio, or both—Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production will give you a rare tour of the world of a professional broadcaster.
Jonathan Kern, who has trained NPR’s on-air staff for years, is a gifted guide, able to narrate a day in the life of a host and lay out the nuts and bolts of production with equal wit and warmth. Along the way, he explains the importance of writing the way you speak, reveals how NPR books guests ranging from world leaders to neighborhood newsmakers, and gives sage advice on everything from proposing stories to editors to maintaining balance and objectivity. Best of all—because NPR wouldn’t be NPR without its array of distinctive voices—lively examples from popular shows and colorful anecdotes from favorite personalities animate each chapter.
As public radio’s audience of millions can attest, NPR’s unique guiding principles and technical expertise combine to connect with listeners like no other medium can. With today’s technologies allowing more people to turn their home computers into broadcast studios, Sound Reporting couldn’t have arrived at a better moment to reveal the secrets behind the story of NPR’s success.
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