Mencken is supposed to have said that it's a newspaper's job to comfort the afflicted—and to afflict the comfortable. On the dismaying evidence of Underwood's thoughtful survey of the user- friendly pap that now passes for print journalism, the famed editor's sly canon has become a very dead letter. A working reporter for 13 years before he began teaching at the University of Washington, Underwood offers a sobering appraisal of the newspaper business that—if not quite as lively as Howard Kurtz's Media Circus (p. 279)—is appreciably more systematic and better documented. Paying close attention to the influence of a former employer (Gannett and its USA Today) as well as TV, the author focuses on how a new breed of market-minded, profit-oriented executives has changed the face and shoddied the editorial content of newspapers throughout the country. Covered as well is the flashy makeover's impact on newsrooms that once were havens for nonconformist mavericks informed by a love of good writing and an absolute conviction that they were rendering an essential public service. Now, Underwood concludes, only team players willing to see their prose homogenized beyond all individual recognition need apply. In what appears to be triumph of hope over experience, the author closes on an upbeat note, pointing out that newspapers not only meet social and psychic needs but also set the agendas for broadcast media in today's wired-up world. A first-rate critique of the infotainment/customer trap into which commercialism has lured many of the metropolitan dailies owned by conglomerates rather than by proprietors who view their equity as a trust.

Pub Date: June 3, 1993

ISBN: 0-231-08048-4

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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