Like the news itself, an analysis that must be read with a critical eye.

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BEYOND NEWS

THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

A professor makes what will seem to some a radical suggestion to disconnect journalism from news, but he belabors the obvious in making the argument and offers little suggestion for a business model that might support his vision of journalism’s future.

NYU scholar and author Stephens (The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word, 1998, etc.) contends that the future of journalism no longer lies within the hallowed ground of reporting, objectivity and facts. Facts are everywhere in the age of the Internet, as is news, and almost all of what journalism once commodified is available for free. So, what now, and what’s next? The author argues for the sort of analysis (he prefers interpretation) that is in fact widely practiced and that goes beyond who, what, when and where to focus on why and how. His “call for more interpretation in journalism” further suggests that the future of journalism is in the hands of specialists—maybe even scholars and public intellectuals—where journalism has traditionally regarded its reporters as generalists. What we need are “wisdom journalists, looking not for news but for the meaning and consequences of that news.” Editors have generally been moving in that direction anyway, as social media has made even the 24/7 TV news cycle seem a little dated. Further, the Web is rife with analysis and interpretation—journalism that provides expertise, depth, context and substance—as well as opinion and “facts” (some of which are skewed or prove to be simply untrue). Stephens’ confidence that readers “haven’t had all that much difficulty filtering out the foolishness” isn’t necessarily warranted, as spin becomes increasingly polarized and lies go viral. But even if each of us is qualified to serve as a gatekeeper, where is the revenue to support the wisdom journalism of those who might have once been employed by the sort of news organizations that this book suggests are obsolete?

Like the news itself, an analysis that must be read with a critical eye.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-231-15938-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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