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Breach of Faith: A Crisis of Coverage in the Age of Corporate Newspapering

by Gene Roberts Thomas Kunkel

Enormous changes have taken place in the newspaper industry in recent years, from the birth of USA Today to the growth of Web-based media, introducing a host of questions about these changes' impact on average American newspapers in particular and on democracy as a whole. Newspaper editor Roberts (New York Times; Philadelphia Inquirer) and a group of journalists have been studying these questions and have released their findings in a pair of volumes. The first, Leaving Readers Behind (2001), focused on the economics of these changes. This second volume focuses on these changes' impact on the content of daily papers. While these eight essays touch on a variety of concerns-declining coverage of statehouse politics even as lobbyists grab more power, increasing coverage of business and sports, and the decrease of national and international coverage-there's an underlying despair that runs throughout them. Modern newspapers are better written and better looking, but they've lost their distinctive flavor, these writers say, that "essential local ingredient" that makes readers loyal. Worse, they avoid important national and most international stories; "a foreign story that doesn't involve bombs, natural disasters, or financial calamity" rarely makes it into the news. Focus group researchers argue that this trend mirrors readers' preferences, yet many of these essays insist that to maintain an informed electorate, newspapers need to refocus on hard news and let the accountants worry about the bottom line. J-school students and media policy makers will benefit greatly from this wise collection. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- From Publishers Weekly

Genius in Disguise

by Thomas Kunkel

This hugely entertaining biography of the founding editor of The New Yorker tells the diverting story of how Ross and the brilliant group of people he gathered around him--including James Thurber, Charles Addams, Dorothy Parker, and John O'Hara--devised the formula that made the magazine such a popular and critical success. Photos & cartoons.

Letters from the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold Ross

by Thomas Kunkel

These exhilarating letters--selected and introduced by Thomas Kunkel, who wrote Genius in Disguise, the distinguished Ross biography--tell the dramatic story of the birth of The New Yorker and its precarious early days and years. Ross worries about everything from keeping track of office typewriters to the magazine's role in wartime to the exact questions to be asked for a "Talk of the Town" piece on the song "Happy Birthday." We find Ross, in Kunkel's words, "scolding Henry Luce, lecturing Orson Welles, baiting J. Edgar Hoover, inviting Noel Coward and Ginger Rogers to the circus, wheedling Ernest Hemingway-- offering to sell Harpo Marx a used car and James Cagney a used tractor, and explaining to restaurateur-to-the-stars Dave Chasen, step by step, how to smoke a turkey." These letters from a supreme editor tell in his own words the story of the fierce, lively man who launched the world's most prestigious magazine.From the Hardcover edition.

Man in Profile

by Thomas Kunkel

This fascinating biography reveals the untold story of the legendary New Yorker profile writer--author of Joe Gould's Secret and Up in the Old Hotel--and unravels the mystery behind one of literary history's greatest disappearing acts. Born and raised in North Carolina, Joseph Mitchell was Southern to the core. But from the 1930s to the 1960s, he was the voice of New York City. Readers of The New Yorker cherished his intimate sketches of the people who made the city tick--from Mohawk steelworkers to Staten Island oystermen, from homeless intellectual Joe Gould to Old John McSorley, founder of the city's most famous saloon. Mitchell's literary sensibility combined with a journalistic eye for detail produced a writing style that would inspire New Journalism luminaries such as Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Joan Didion. Then, all of a sudden, his stories stopped appearing. For thirty years, Mitchell showed up for work at The New Yorker, but he produced . . . nothing. Did he have something new and exciting in store? Was he working on a major project? Or was he bedeviled by an epic case of writer's block? The first full-length biography of Joseph Mitchell, based on the thousands of archival pages he left behind and dozens of interviews, Man in Profile pieces together the life of this beloved and enigmatic literary legend and answers the question that has plagued readers and critics for decades: What was Joe Mitchell doing all those years? By the time of his death in 1996, Mitchell was less well known for his elegant writing than for his J. D. Salinger-like retreat from the public eye. For thirty years, Mitchell had wandered the streets of New York, chronicling the lives of everyday people and publishing them in the most prestigious publication in town. But by the 1970s, crime, homelessness, and a crumbling infrastructure had transformed the city Mitchell understood so well and spoke for so articulately. He could barely recognize it. As he said to a friend late in life, "I'm living in a state of confusion." Fifty years after his last story appeared, and almost two decades after his death, Joseph Mitchell still has legions of fans, and his story--especially the mystery of his "disappearance"--continues to fascinate. With a colorful cast of characters that includes Harold Ross, A. J. Liebling, Tina Brown, James Thurber, and William Shawn, Man in Profile goes a long way to solving that mystery--and bringing this lion of American journalism out of the shadows that once threatened to swallow him. Praise for Man in Profile "[An] authoritative new biography [about] our greatest literary journalist . . . Kunkel is the ideal biographer of Joseph Mitchell: As . . . one of the great authorities on the ethos of both the magazine (a world all its own, to be sure) and New York newspapers in their picaresque heyday. Better still, he's a writer and craftsman worthy of his subject."--Blake Bailey, The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice) "A richly persuasive portrait of a man who cared about everybody and everything."--London Review of Books"Mitchell's life and achievements are brought vividly alive in [this] splendid book."--Chicago Tribune"A thoughtful and sympathetic new biography."--Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic "Excellent . . . A first-rate Mitchell biography was very much in order."--The Wall Street JournalFrom the Hardcover edition.

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