Matt Taibbi (below), a journalist I’ve admired for some time, does a fantastic job here of explaining the mechanics of how journalism is formed in the newsroom.
I had never seen a) graduate students lobby for anything before or b) students, undergrad or grad, making a Board of Regents reverse a negative tenure decision. But Katherine McAdams, who I had the honor of having on my dissertation committee almost 20 years ago, was not a normal academic. Her honesty and sense of humanity were so large you could feel it like an energy field around her.
She was one of the first persons I talked to about Live From Death Row. She listened intently and respected my passion. Now that I’m older, I now know that’s not easy to do well; it’s real simple to fake it, particularly when you get paid to do so. But her sincerity and empathy were equally large and real.
She always championed me. I often walked away from an encounter with her wishing I could respond and interact with people the way she did–with such a high level of spiritual freedom and connection. She had a lot of friends and admirers and the right enemies. Now I have another standard to meet.
A very fine article I found reminded me of the type of serious longform writing and print-era that, once I discovered it, shaped and fascinated me as a young newspaper reporter. The Village Voice and its crew, of which Stanley Crouch was a part, were in this great, fascinating NYC-centric, newsstand literary universe.
I was definitely not a fan of the content, philosophy or personal style of Crouch (who had left The Voice when I began to read it), but I was a fan of the idea of him. This act of remembering–published in one of the remaining traditional 20-centuryish places left for this kind of writing–brought back memories of a time long gone: of picking up The Voice at Newark Penn Station while on the way to or back from Harlem on an early 1990s Friday, all the while wondering what was possible for me and writing.
Later in the 1990s, embedded in graduate school, I was even more obsessed with The Writers’ Life. For example, I actually bought a transcript and video of the below because I wanted to absorb this discussion. (Not surprisingly, these writers–who were actually post-World-War-II-nouns, who wrote in the mid-20th century for a living–didn’t see that nonfiction and fiction were going to move en masse to the academy.) I succeeded: this 23-year-old talk has been almost completely memorized over the years and, as a result, it serves as part of my internal writing clinic when/as I write.
And for an activist success story, read this book excerpt by Lawerence Hamm and Annette Alston, courtesy of Jared Ball’s imixwhatilike.org.