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American Crime Narrative in the Neoconservative Turn
Since the mid-1960s, the war on crime has reshaped public attitudes about state authority, criminal behavior, and the responsibilities of citizenship. But how have American writers grappled with these changes? What happens when a journalist approaches the workings of organized crime not through its legendary Godfathers but through a workaday, low-level figure who informs on his mob? Why is it that interrogation scenes have become so central to prime-time police dramas of late? What is behind writers’ recent fascination with “cold case” homicides, with private security, or with prisons? In Learning to Live with Crime, Christopher P. Wilson examines this war on crime and how it has made its way into cultural representation and public consciousness. Under the sway of neoconservative approaches to criminal justice and public safety, Americans have been urged to see crime as an inevitable risk of modern living and to accept ever more aggressive approaches to policing, private security, and punishment. The idea has been not simply to fight crime but to manage its risks; to inculcate personal vigilance in citizens; and to incorporate criminals’ knowledge through informants and intelligence gathering. At its most scandalous, this study suggests, contemporary law enforcement has even come to mimic crime’s own operations.
Journalistic Traditions and Transnational Influences
At the end of the nineteenth century, several countries were developing journalistic traditions similar to what we identify today as literary reportage or literary journalism. Yet throughout most of the twentieth century, in particular after World War I, that tradition was overshadowed and even marginalized by the general perception among democratic states that journalism ought to be either “objective,” as in the American tradition, or “polemical,” as in the European. Nonetheless, literary journalism would survive and, at times, even thrive. How and why is a story that is unique to each nation. Though largely considered an Anglo-American phenomenon today, literary journalism has had a long and complex international history, one built on a combination of traditions and influences that are sometimes quite specific to a nation and at other times come from the blending of cultures across borders. These essays examine this phenomenon from various international perspectives, documenting literary journalism’s rich and diverse heritage and describing its development within a global context. In addition to the editors, contributors include David Abrahamson, Peiqin Chen, Clazina Dingemanse, William Dow, Rutger de Graaf, John Hartsock, Nikki Hessell, Maria Lassila-Merisalo, Edvaldo Pereira Lima, Willa McDonald, Jenny McKay, Sonja Merljak Zdovc, Sonia Parratt, Norman Sims, Isabel Soares,and Soenke Zehle.
Masson v. New Yorker and the First Amendment
In November 1984, Jeffrey Masson filed a libel suit against writer Janet Malcolm and the New Yorker, claiming that Malcolm had intentionally misquoted him in a profile she wrote for the magazine about his former career as a Freud scholar and administrator of the Freud archives. Over the next twelve years the case moved up and down the federal judicial ladder, at one point reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, as lawyers and judges wrestled with questions about the representation of “truth” in journalism and, by extension, the limits of First Amendment protections of free speech. Had a successful Freudian scholar actually called himself an “intellectual gigolo” and “the greatest analyst who ever lived”? Or had a respected writer for the New Yorker knowingly placed false, self-damning words in her subject's mouth? In Literary Journalism on Trial, Kathy Roberts Forde explores the implications of Masson v. New Yorker in the context of the history of American journalism. She shows how the case represents a watershed moment in a long debate between the advocates of traditional and literary journalism and explains how it reflects a significant intellectual project of the period: the postmodern critique of objectivity, with its insistence on the instability of language and rejection of unitary truth in human affairs. The case, Forde argues, helped widen the perceived divide between ideas of literary and traditional journalism and forced the resolution of these conflicting conceptions of truth in the constitutional arena of libel law. By embracing traditional journalism's emphasis on fact and objectivity and rejecting a broader understanding of truth, the Supreme Court turned away from the First Amendment theory articulated in previous rulings, opting to value less the free, uninhibited interchange of ideas necessary to democracy and more the “trustworthiness” of public expression. The Court's decision in this case thus had implications that reached beyond the legal realm to the values and norms expressed in the triangular relationship between American democracy, First Amendment principles, and the press.
An Oral History
With a legendary beginning as a printing press floated up the Arkansas River in 1819, the Arkansas Gazette is inextricably linked with the state’s history, reporting on every major Arkansas event until the paper’s demise in 1991 after a long, bitter, and very public newspaper war. Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette, knowledgeably and intimately edited by longtime Gazette reporter Roy Reed, comprises interviews from over a hundred former Gazette staffers recalling the stories they reported on and the people they worked with from the late forties to the paper’s end. The result is a nostalgic and justifiably admiring look back at a publication known for its progressive stance in a conservative Southern state, a newspaper that, after winning two Pulitzers for its brave rule-of-law stance during the Little Rock Central High Crisis, was considered one of the country’s greatest. The interviews, collected from archives at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas, provide fascinating details on renowned editors and reporters such as Harry Ashmore, Orville Henry, and Charles Portis, journalists who wrote daily on Arkansas’s always-colorful politicians, its tragic disasters and sensational crimes, its civil rights crises, Bill Clinton, the Razorbacks sports teams, and much more. Full of humor and little-known details, Looking Back at the Arkansas Gazette is a fascinating remembrance of a great newspaper.
The White House Communications Operation
Political scientists are rarely able to study presidents from inside the White House while presidents are governing, campaigning, and delivering thousands of speeches. It’s even rarer to find one who manages to get officials such as political adviser Karl Rove or presidential counselor Dan Bartlett to discuss their strategies while those strategies are under construction. But that is exactly what Martha Joynt Kumar pulls off in her fascinating new book, which draws on her first-hand reporting, interviewing, and original scholarship to produce analyses of the media and communications operations of the past four administrations, including chapters on George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Kumar describes how today’s White House communications and media operations can be at once in flux and remarkably stable over time. She describes how the presidential Press Office that was once manned by a single presidential advisor evolved into a multilayered communications machine that employs hundreds of people, what modern presidents seek to accomplish through their operations, and how presidents measure what they get for their considerable efforts. Laced throughout with in-depth statistics, historical insights, and you-are-there interviews with key White House staffers and journalists, this indispensable and comprehensive dissection of presidential communications operations will be key reading for scholars of the White House researching the presidency, political communications, journalism, and any other discipline where how and when one speaks is at least as important as what one says.
Architecture and Communications in New York City
With a unique focus on corporate headquarters as embodiments of the values of the press and as signposts for understanding media culture, Media Capital: Architecture and Communications in New York City demonstrates the mutually supporting relationship between the media and urban space. Aurora Wallace considers how architecture contributed to the power of the press, the nature of the reading public, the commercialization of media, and corporate branding in the media industry. Tracing the rise and concentration of the media industry in New York City from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, Wallace analyzes physical and discursive space, as well as labor, technology, and aesthetics, to understand the entwined development of the mass media and late capitalism._x000B_
New Orleans through the Eyes of a Lover
A vividly described and intensely personal memoir, My Bayou charts a personal and spiritual transformation along the fabled banks of Bayou Saint John in New Orleans. When Constance Adler moved to New Orleans, she began what would become a lasting love affair with the city, and especially the bayou, a living entity and the beating heart of local culture. Rites of passage, celebrations, mysterious accidents, and magic all took place on its banks, leading Adler to a vibrant awareness of a divine intelligence animating the world. That faith is tested in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when Adler’s conviction that the sadness that surrounds her can only be leavened by the optimistic act of having a child comes into devastating conflict with her husband’s position on parenthood.
American Journalism and Diplomacy, 1918-1919
Negotiating in the Press offers a new interpretation of an otherwise dark moment in American journalism. Rather than emphasize the familiar story of lost journalistic freedom during World War I, Joseph R. Hayden describes the press’s newfound power in the war’s aftermath—that seminal moment when journalists discovered their ability to help broker peace talks. He examines the role of the American press at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, looking at journalists’ influence on the peace process and their relationship to heads of state and other delegation members. Challenging prevailing historical accounts that assume the press was peripheral to the quest for peace, Hayden demonstrates that journalists instead played an integral part in the talks, by serving as “public ambassadors.” During the late 1910s, as World War I finally came to a close, American journalists and diplomats found themselves working in unlikely proximity, with correspondents occasionally performing diplomatic duties and diplomats sometimes courting publicity. The efforts of both groups to facilitate the peace talks at Versailles arose amidst the vision of a “new diplomacy,” one characterized by openness, information sharing, and public accountability. Using evidence from memoirs, official records, and contemporary periodicals, Hayden reveals that participants in the Paris Peace Conference continually wrestled with ideas about the roles of the press and, through the press, the people. American journalists reported on an abundance of information in Paris, and negotiators could not resist the useful leverage that publicity provided. Peacemaking via publicity, a now-obscure dimension of progressive statecraft, provided a powerful ideological ethos. It hinted at dynamically altered roles for journalists and diplomats, offered hope for a world desperate for optimism and order, and, finally, suggested that the fruits of America’s great age of reform might be shared with a Europe exhausted by war. The peace conference of 1919, Hayden demonstrates, marked a decisive stage in the history of American journalism, a coming of age for many news organizations. By detailing what journalists did before, during, and after the Paris talks, he tells us a great deal about how the negotiators and the Wilson administration worked throughout 1919. Ultimately, he provides a richer integrative view of peacemaking as a whole. An engaging analysis of diplomacy and the Fourth Estate, Negotiating in the Press offers a fascinating look at how leading nations democratized foreign policy a century ago and ushered in the dawn of public diplomacy.