New Books in Journalism
Summary: Just another New Books Network podcast
John Durham PetersView on Amazon[Cross-posted from the NBN Seminar] John Durham Peters' wonderful new book is a brilliant and beautifully-written consideration of natural environments as subjects for media studies. Accessible and informative for a broad readership. The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media (University of Chicago Press, 2015) is structured as a series of meditations on and explorations of water, fire, air, earth, and ether media. After a chapter that sets out some of the foundational ideas shaping the book and charts an intellectual landscape for rethinking media, each of the following chapters offers a carefully curated series of studies of particulars – dolphin jaws, candles, towers, watches, clouds, feet, bells, weathermen, Google, and more – as a means of examining the significance of infrastructure, forgetting, technicity, and other modes of understanding media. Peters asks us to come with a fresh perspective to notions that we otherwise take for granted, and the result is a thoughtful and inspiring account that brings together media studies, theology, philosophy, and the natural sciences in thoroughly compelling ways. Among other things, the book is a call for a "greener media studies" that "appreciates our long natural history of shaping and being shaped by our habitats as a process of mediation." What if, Peters asks, we took nature instead of the mind as the "epitome of meaning"? What are the stakes of doing so? The result is among the most exciting and enjoyable books that I've read in some time.
Leonard CassutoView on AmazonThe discontented graduate student is something of a cultural fixture in the U.S. Indeed theirs is a sorry lot. They work very hard, earn very little, and have very poor prospects. Nearly all of them want to become professors, but most of them won't. Indeed a disturbingly large minority of them won't even finish their degrees. It's little wonder graduate students are, as a group, somewhat depressed. In his thought-provoking book The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It (Harvard University Press, 2015), Leonard Cassuto tries to figure out why graduate education in the U.S. is in such a sad state. More importantly, he offers a host of fascinating proposals to "fix" American graduate schools. Listen in.
Candis CallisonView on AmazonCandis Callison's timely and fascinating new book considers climate change as a form of life and articulates how journalists, scientists, religious groups, economic collectives, and others shape and influence public engagement around the issue. How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts (Duke University Press, 2014) looks carefully at the discourses and practices of five collectives within and through which climate change becomes meaningful: Arctic indigenous representatives of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, corporate social responsibility activists in Boston, American evangelical Christians, science journalists, and science policy experts. Callison explores meaning-making in these contexts in a series of beautifully written chapters that collectively narrate the forms of expertise and translation through which climate change comes to matter. The book pays special attention to the ways that these case studies can inform efforts to mobilize greater collaboration across multiple epistemologies, ethical imperatives, vernaculars, and social norms. It's an insightful, compelling, and enjoyable read!
View on AmazonParks M. Coble's new book is a wonderful study of memory, war, and history that takes the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 and its aftermath as its focus. China's War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan (Harvard University Press, 2015) is organized in two major parts. The first part (Ch. 1-5) look closely at writing done by journalists and intellectuals during the war, focusing especially on those who were associated with the National Salvation Movement. Here we find a fascinating account of Chinese journals, newspapers, and war reporters that pays special attention to the political and ideological motivations behind wartime writers' choices of what to report and how to report it. The distinctions here between rural and urban experiences and knowledge of the war are especially striking. The second part (Ch. 6-7) looks at the "re-remembering" of the war, including the consequences of communist rule for Salvation Movement writers in the immediate aftermath of the war, the disappearance of their legacy from public memory, and the refiguring of their work in the context of post-Mao "new remembering" of the war. Coble also considers the consequences of an increasing emphasis on nationalism in China for the re-remembering of the war in academic and popular media. Collectively, the chapters of China's War Reporters argue that the particular way that the war has been remembered in China has distorted and constrained historical scholarship. It's an exceptionally clear and well-written history.
Anita M. HarrisView on AmazonSex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll. That's the stereotypical view of the 1960s. But in her memoir, Ithaca Diaries, Coming of Age in the 1960s (Cambridge Common Press, 2014), journalist and writer Anita M. Harris tells a more nuanced story about her tumultuous undergraduate years at Cornell University.
Deana A. RohlingerView on Amazon[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Deana A. Rohlinger has just written Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Rohlinger is associate professor of sociology at Florida State University. In the last several weeks, the podcast has featured a variety of political scientists who study interest groups and social movements. This week, Deana Rohlinger brings her perspective as a sociologist to the subject. She examines the way four policy organizations with an interest in abortion policy (National Right to Life Committee, National Organization of Women, Planned Parenthood Federation, and Concerned Women for America) interact with the media. Rohlinger finds quite different strategies for how to court the media, but also in how each organization responds to crises. She uses interviews with organizational leaders to deepen what we know about how social movements and interest groups employ a media strategy.
View on Amazon[Cross-posted from New Books in European Studies] How those within the Brussels Beltway in the EU institutions must pine for the simple days of the past. Not only was the European project in itself far less contested, but the nature of the journalism surrounding the EU was also far more accommodating. One of the main lessons of John Lloyd and Cristina Marconi's fascinating book Reporting the EU: News, Media and the European Institutions (I. B. Tauris, 2014) is how much it has mirrored the evolution of the European project itself. In the first couple of decades the journalists were as likely to be true believers as the Eurocrats in the corridors of power, even if their reports tended to reflect the concerns and interests of the individual countries that they served. That started to change as the EU (under various names) grew and changed. In the 1980s the British press developed a real streak of Euroscepticism, and journalists in general began to ask more questions than the Eurocrats were used to. Big developments such as the Maastricht Treaty and the expansion into the poorer corners of the former Soviet Empire begged bigger questions. And then there was the euro crisis, and the current wave of popular Euroscepticism that has found a home in almost every corner of the continent. All the while Eurocrats and EU boosters charged that Euroscepticism was something contrived through the practicing of hostile journalism by spiteful editors in thrall to shadowy media tycoons. If only the people of Europe had a fair picture of what they did, they'd say: then they'd fall in behind the European project once again. At least the euro crisis has led to the EU finding its way to the front pages of newspapers, along with a widespread realisation that what goes on within that Brussels Beltway (and in places like Berlin) matters to all its citizens far more than they'd realised. The authors of the book hope that recognition will continue to give the EU, for all its complexity, a legitimate place in Europe's popular media, worthy of this peculiar set of institutions that has grown to have such an impact in so many parts of daily life. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Victor PickardView on Amazon[Cross-posted from New Books in Technology] The media system in the United States could have developed into something very different than what it is today. In fact, there was an era in which significant media reform was considered. This was a time when media consumers were tired of constant advertising, bias, and control by corporate entities, and instead wanted more "public-oriented" content. Sound at all familiar? In his new book, America's Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Victor Pickard, an assistant professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, examines the debates on media reform and policy from the early 20th century, focusing, in particular, on radio. Pickard revisits the significant media policy conflicts to analyze why the American media is the way it is, and how it could have been. In so doing, he considers what the current American media system means for the Web and other new media.
Randal MarlinView on AmazonIt's been 100 years since the start of the First World War, a conflict that cost millions of lives. In his recently revised book, Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion (2013), Randal Marlin writes that Britain pioneered propaganda techniques to sell that war that have been imitated ever since. He tells how the British spread a false story about Germans boiling the bodies of their dead soldiers in corpse factories. It was designed to paint Germany as a uncivilized, ghoulish nation that had to be fought. Marlin also tells how American propaganda during the First World War helped foster the modern public relations and advertising industries. Marlin, who studied with the French propaganda theorist Jacques Ellul, sees propaganda as a manipulative exercise of power and he argues that in order to defend ourselves against it, we need to recognize its methods and techniques. His revised second edition analyzes how the Bush administration used fear to persuade Americans to support the invasion of Iraq. The book traces the history of propaganda from ancient times to its present, post 9/11 forms Randal Marlin is a professor of philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Heather MenziesView on AmazonThe Canadian author and scholar, Heather Menzies, has written a book about the journey she took to the highlands of Scotland in search of her ancestral roots. In Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good: A Memoir & Manifesto (New Society Publishers, 2014), Menzies outlines her discovery of a vanished way of life and argues that restoring it would help North Americans recover a deeper sense of self as well as more satisfying social relations with the people around them. It could also help them gain more control over political decisions that affect them in their communities, states and provinces and at the national level. "Commoning –cultivating community and livelihood together on the common land of the Earth," Menzies writes, "was a way of life for my ancestors and for many other newcomers to North America too. It was a way of understanding and pursuing economics as embedded in life and the labor, human and non-human, that is necessary to sustain it." She maintains that reclaiming the commons could also help us to heal an overheating planet and reconcile with the native peoples displaced by European settlers. Heather Menzies is an adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. She is the author of 10 books and has been awarded the Order of Canada for her contributions to public discourse.
Jonathan SwartsView on AmazonThe new book, Constructing Neoliberalism: Economic Transformation in Anglo-American Democracies (University of Toronto Press, 2013) shows how political elites in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada successfully introduced radically new economic policies in the 1980s. While opinion polls have consistently showed that neoliberal policies are not popular, governments in all four countries have continued implementing an agenda that includes government spending cuts, the privatization of state-owned enterprises and free trade. The book's author, Jonathan Swarts, Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University North Central in northwestern Indiana, says he finds it fascinating how governments of all political stripes in the four Anglo-American democracies have adopted neoliberalism, which he calls a new "political-economic imaginary." In this interview with the New Books Network, Professor Swarts discusses how political leaders in the four Anglo-American democracies brought about the neoliberal economic transformation using a combination of persuasion and coercion.
Brooke Erin DuffyView on Amazon[Cross-posted from New Books in Media & Communications] Brooke Erin Duffy's Remake, Remodel: Women's Magazines in the Digital Age (University of Illinois Press, 2013) traces the upheaval in the women's magazine industry in an era of media convergence and audience media-making. Duffy, assistant professor at Temple University's School of Media and Communication, is especially interested in the experience of writers, editors, and others who produce women's magazines: How are they coping with new competition, more intense work routines, and the imperative to produce (and engage) across a range of non-print media platforms? Questions of identity thread through the book: What does it mean to be a magazine writer in the iPad era? What are the stakes for gender identity as this female-focused genre adapts to digital workflows? To get at these questions, Duffy conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of editors, publishers, interns, and business-side workers, most of them at the big three magazine publishers, Hearst, Condé Nast, and Time, Inc. Remake, Remodel traces the history of women's magazines, as well the history of scholarship on these magazines, but the bulk of the book explores different facets of workers' coming-to-terms with the digital tsunami, including changes to the gendered makeup of the workforce, shifts in the industry's attitude toward its audience, the complicated rivalry, dismissal, and embrace of fashion bloggers, and the tension between medium-specific traditions and the push to spread the magazine–now reimagined as a brand–across a range of platforms.
View on Amazon"We are not half a dozen provinces. We are one great Dominion," Canada's first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald proudly declared. More than a century later, Canada has 10 provinces and three northern territories making it one of the biggest and richest countries on Earth. In the spirit of optimism that prevailed when the country celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1967, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau called for the founding of a "just society" in which every Canadian would enjoy fundamental rights. But according to a recently published book, the country is retreating from Macdonald's vision of one great country and from Trudeau's call for a just society. In Equal As Citizens: The Tumultuous and Troubled History of a Great Canadian Idea (Formac, 2014), author Richard Starr argues that Canada is losing its commitment to equal opportunity and sharing the country's wealth. He traces the long history of Canada's slow evolution toward a more equal society and its gradual retreat from that ideal. He shows that Canadians in richer provinces including Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, now enjoy higher levels of government services, such as better health care and education, than those who live in poorer provinces such as Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. More than 30 years ago, Canada's politicians enshrined their commitment to equal opportunity and public services in the Canadian constitution, but Starr writes that those commitments have been forgotten. As a result, citizens in poorer provinces are paying higher taxes for lower levels of public services. In this interview with the New Books Network, Richard Starr says he hopes his book will spark more discussion and debate about inequality in Canada.
Robert E. Gutsche Jr.View on AmazonThe city of Iowa City's website promotes its "small-town hospitality" and its focus on "culture." But a closer look at Iowa City, home to 70,000 and the University of Iowa, reveals a community trying to redefine itself as urban African-Americans relocate to the area. This is the focus of Robert E. "Ted" Gutsche's book, A Transplanted Chicago: Race, Place and the Press in Iowa City (McFarland, 2014). In it, he takes on the "Southeast Side" and all its meanings. "Southeast Side" has become a coded term by local press to describe an area of Iowa City it associates with crime and unruliness, sometimes even using the term when the actual crime does not occur on the Southeast Side. "Home to a mixture of white townies and new, black arrivals from Chicago, St. Louis, and other metro regions in the Upper Midwest," Gutsche writes, "the Southeast Side is known–mythically–as a bastion of affordable housing, black families, and stories of devious behavior." Through original interviews and research, Gutsche, a former reporter, shows just how wrong the press has it about Iowa City's Southeast Side.
Travis VoganView on AmazonNo professional sports league in the United States wields more social and cultural power than the NFL. It's not even close. In Keepers of the Flame: NFL Films and the Rise of Sports Media (University of Illinois Press, 2014), Travis Vogan performs a cultural and structural history of the organization that helped shape the NFL into what it is today. It's a book about myth, image and a collective vision. "NFL Films only produces an estimated one-half of one percent of the league's total revenue," writes Vogan. "NFL Films, however, is not designed to produce financial profits. Rather, it enhances the league's ticket sales, television contracts, and ability to move branded merchandise by creating and publicizing a favorable identity for the NFL that shapes the value of the myriad products that now bear its name." Born from archival research, original interviews, and thorough, creative analysis, Keepers of the Flame belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in media studies, sports studies, or anything having to do with the NFL.