Suitable primarily for working journalists and others concerned with support of a free press, this is a provocative...

JOURNALISM AFTER SNOWDEN

THE FUTURE OF THE FREE PRESS IN THE SURVEILLANCE STATE

Forget going to jail to protect your source—the government can simply identify her through metadata.

In 2013, Edward Snowden famously absconded with an enormous cache of files documenting mass data collection by the American National Security Agency and four allied governments; their publication by the Guardian and the Washington Post had wide-ranging consequences. Bell (Professional Practice and Digital Journalism/Columbia Journalism School) and Owen (Digital Media and Global Affairs/Univ. of British Columbia) present 20 essays by contributors with backgrounds in journalism, digital media, and law about the significance for journalists of the capabilities exposed by Snowden and resulting obstacles to reporting on politically sensitive issues. Among others, the contributors include Steve Coll, Clay Shirky, Glenn Greenwald, and Julia Angwin. The collection is not an in-depth analysis of a single problem but is more like a conference with brief workshops focusing on narrow but related topics. Most of the essays deal with some practical aspect of the relationship of a free press to a democratic government—i.e., under what circumstances should journalists be permitted to publish government secrets? What can a government do to prevent the exposure of secrets, and what can the press do to circumvent these actions? Other essays move beyond these core concerns to more tangential topics ranging from appropriate limits on control of passports—Snowden's was revoked while he was in transit—to the control of news flow by unaccountable actors like Facebook. The essays' value lies more in the issues they raise than in any solutions they may offer. Several contributors argue that many news organizations are woefully ill-prepared to protect their work and the identities of confidential sources from official snooping, and they offer specific suggestions for improvement. Many others pose thoughtful questions and a framework for considering them but could by themselves be fruitful topics for an entire book.

Suitable primarily for working journalists and others concerned with support of a free press, this is a provocative compendium of issues confronting journalism as new technologies pose an array of threats to independent reporting.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-231-17613-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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