• January 15, 2018

    Novelist Stephen King will receive PEN’s American Literary Service Award. PEN president Andrew Solomon (Far from the Tree) says that King “has inspired us to stand up to sinister forces through his rich prose, his generous philanthropy and his outspoken defense of free expression.”

    Akil Sharma

    Akhil Sharma

    “It is generosity which reminds us that we are more than our problems.” In a short video airing at PBS, novelist Akhil Sharma (Family Life) reflects on what it means to belong, and on the importance of thinking about others.

    HBO has given a sneak peak at Ramin Bahrani’s new adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451.  

    At Politico, Jack Shafer has this advice for A.G. Sulzberger: “Sell the New York Times. Now.

    Agnes Poirier considers the French publisher Gallimard’s plan to reprint Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s antisemitic pamphlets, which were originally published between 1937 and 1941 and have never been again printed in France. Poirier wonders if the decision to publish the writings by Céline (author of Journey to the End of the Night) has been primarily driven by the hope to make a  “quick profit.” A member of the French prime minister’s office has asked Gallimard to reissue the pamphlets “in the spirit of education, rather than in one of sensation.” Amid more heated protest, Gallimard announced last week that it was suspending its plans to publish the works.

  • January 12, 2018

    Peter Thiel, who funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, has submitted a bid to buy the defunct website. Reuters writes that administrators and lawyers from Gawker’s bankruptcy plan “have tried to block Thiel’s bid,” but that even if they are successful, “Thiel could ask the judge to consider it if it is higher than rival offers.”

    Carrie Brownstein

    Carrie Brownstein is working on a show for Hulu based on her memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. Search and Destroy follows “a young woman, a band, and a community learning how to be unafraid of their own noise.”

    Reporter Ronan Farrow has signed a three-year contract with HBO to “develop and front a series of investigative documentary specials.”

    Vox Media management have chosen to recognize their employee union.

    Mei Fong reflects on journalist Carrie Gracie’s resignation from the BBC over the outlet’s gender pay gap. Fong notes that the issue of gender pay discrimination is likely as bad or worse for female journalists abroad. “While there’s no accurate data comparing the numbers of male and female correspondents, it’s quite likely that the figures mirror or surpass those of general newsrooms, which are two-thirds male,” she writes. “Such imbalances are certainly reflected in journalism prizes, as Pulitzers for international reporting and even the Martha Gellhorn Prize—named for a female correspondent—go overwhelmingly to men.”

    At The Outline, Leah Finnegan details the many ways in which Harper’s “completely fucking blew it” in their reaction to criticism about a piece by Katie Roiphe that was said to name the creator of the Shitty Media Men list. “They first fucked themselves when they hired Roiphe to write this piece, and then fucked themselves harder in their response to the irate readers expressing concern over Roiphe’s intentions and Donegan’s welfare,” she writes. “For Harper’s, the publisher of which has been infamously grumpy about the internet, to haughtily dismiss out-of-hand the angry statements of hundreds of people as ‘voices from the bog,’ well, that basically tells you all you need to know.”

  • January 11, 2018

    Jada Yuan

    Moira Donegan has come forward as the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” spreadsheet, after rumors spread on Twitter that her name would be revealed in an upcoming Harper’s Magazine essay by Katie Roiphe. In her essay, Donegan explains why she started the list, addresses its critics, and describes the aftermath of the spreadsheet going viral: “In the weeks after the spreadsheet was exposed, my life changed dramatically. I lost friends: some who thought I had been overzealous, others who thought I had not been zealous enough. I lost my job, too. The fear of being exposed, and of the harassment that will inevitably follow, has dominated my life since. I’ve learned that protecting women is a position that comes with few protections itself.”

    The New York Times has hired New York magazine’s Jada Yuan as their “52 Places Traveler.” Yuan will travel to fifty-two locations chosen by the paper “to inspire travelers for the coming year.”

    Penguin Random House has bought Rodale Books.

    Alex Kantrowitz wonders where Twitter’s long-promised advertising transparency center is. The project was announced last October as executives from the social media site testified in Congress about “Russia’s suspected manipulation” of the platform during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    One year later, BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith is still proud of the website’s decision to publish the Trump-Russia Dossier. “We never bought the notion, made by the traditionalists, that a main threat to journalism is that journalists might be too transparent with their audience,” he writes. “Keeping the reporting process wrapped in mystery only helps those who oppose the free press.”

    Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach has been suspended for “inappropriate workplace conduct.”

  • January 10, 2018

    Arthur Miller

    After holding on to almost two hundred boxes of Arthur Millers’s papers for years, the Harry Ransom Center has formally purchased the playwright’s archive for $2.7 million. Miller first sent parts of his archive to the center in the 1960s, when he was “short on cash and facing a big tax bill.”

    At the New Republic, Alex Shepard wonders why publisher Henry Holt was not more prepared for Fire and Fury’s explosive sales. Although similar titles about the Trump administration have been published over the last year, few have provoked tweets from the president himself, much less a cease-and-desist letter. More copies are being rushed to print, Shepard writes, “but the consequences for Holt’s dithering will nevertheless be real. By dramatically failing to meet demand, Holt will lose hundreds, if not thousands, of sales due to piracy.”

    Steve Bannon is stepping down from his role at Breitbart.

    CNN has promoted Jim Acosta to chief White House correspondent.

    John Dickerson will replace Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning. It is unclear if the Face the Nation anchor will continue his role on that program as well.

    The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance reports from a meeting of writers and editors held yesterday in Washington, DC to discuss “gender inequity and sexual misconduct in American newsrooms, and the extent to which newsroom culture has lagged behind coverage.”

    Harper’s Magazine is planning to run an essay about sexual harassment by Katie Roiphe in the March issue. Last night, Twitter was buzzing with rumors that the article would publish the name of the woman who is rumored to have started the “Shitty Media Men” list. n+1 co-editor Dayna Tortorici patiently and cogently explained why that is such a bad idea, and other writers, such as Nicole Cliffe, Jamil Smith, and Roxana Gay, urged Harper’s not to go through with it, with Cliffe offering to pay writers who want to pull their articles from the March issue in protest. Smith tweeted: “Journalism should not operate merely at the whims of public demand or to protect its subjects. That said, perhaps the only folks who would welcome this woman’s exposure are those who would seek to do her harm, physically or otherwise. I hope that @Harpers pulls the story.”

  • January 9, 2018

    Michelle Alexander

    The New Jersey prison system has lifted a ban on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow after the ACLU called for the book to be made available to inmates. In a statement, New Jersey ACLU director Amol Sinha noted that the state incarcerates black residents at disproportionate rate. “The ratios and percentages of mass incarceration play out in terms of human lives,“ he said. “Keeping a book that examines a national tragedy out of the hands of the people mired within it adds insult to injury.”

    Los Angeles-based PEN Center USA is merging with New York PEN. Suzanne Nossel will lead the newly-formed PEN America in New York, while Michelle Frank will continue to oversee all programming in Los Angeles.

    Irish publishers are now able to submit books to the Man Booker Prize.  

    Condé Nast has hired Samantha Barry as editor in chief of Glamour. Barry was most recently CNN Worldwide’s executive producer of social and emerging media.

    Tin House talks to Tayari Jones about family, the effects of mass incarceration, and her new book, An American Marriage.

    Milo Yiannopoulos’s lawyers have filed a motion to withdraw as his counsel due to “a breakdown in the relationship” and “irreconcilable differences.” Yiannopoulos will now represent himself in his lawsuit against Simon & Schuster, a move he claims is necessary in order to access documents that had been for “attorneys eyes only.”

     

  • January 8, 2018

    Zia Haider Rahman

    Zia Haider Rahman

    “Should the demise of the literary novel trouble us?” asks novelist Zia Haider Rahman. “I think the answer is ‘yes,’ but not nearly as much as some literary novelists would have you think.” As she points out, we now have better television.

    Even amid ample evidence of Donald Trump’s megalomania, Michael Wolff’s Trump book Fire and Fury continues to shock. As Jack Shafer points out: “President Donald Trump could have saved himself a lot of grief if he—or one of his people—had read Michael Wolff’s 2008 book, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, before permitting the writer seemingly unfettered access to the White House and his underling Steve Bannon.” The Times notes that Wolff is well-known as a “prime piranha,” raising more questions about why the author was given so much access to the White House.

    In a blog post, Twitter explains why it won’t block any world leaders. It did not mention any leader by name, but to most, the figure being referred to was obvious.

    Bird-loving author Jonathan Franzen tells the New Republic that he hopes Trump’s extreme anti-environmental stances will help spur conservation projects, and lays out his view of meaningful environmentalism: “I can devote myself to reducing my carbon footprint, or I can devote myself to going down to the local wetland and pulling out invasive weeds and trying to restore a degraded natural space. If I reduce my carbon footprint, there is zero practical effect. No one could ever measure it because it is meaninglessly small. Whereas if every Sunday I go down and pull weeds at that little half-acre scrap of land, the next year I will see fewer invasive plants. And suddenly a bird that has not nested here since it became degraded is back. I made a difference to that bird. And that is intensely meaningful.”

    At Book Riot, Nancy Snyder expresses her anger over the recent lawsuit brought against Emma Cline, author of The Girls, by her ex-boyfriend, who is claiming, among other things, that Cline plagiarized him. Snyder points out that the ex’s lawyers, Boies Schiller Flexner, has also recently represented Harvey Weinstein.

    In memory of Fred Bass, Tom Verlaine of the legendary rock band Television remembers working at the Strand Bookstore, where he got a job in 1968. “I never saw him lose his temper,” Verlaine says of Bass, “even with his dad, who was an incredibly loud, impatient, insulting porcupine of a man…though no workers took him seriously. He was a source of comedy—a book of anecdotes about him would be very funny.”

  • January 5, 2018

    The New York Times has announced that Gregory Cowles will become the Books desk’s senior editor. Tina Jordan of Entertainment Weekly will be taking over Cowles old role as a fiction preview editor and Inside the List columnist, while Emily Eakin, formerly a senior editor at the New Yorker, will become the Books section’s preview editor.

    Aharon Appelfeld

    Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor Aharon Appelfeld has died at age eighty-five.

    Los Angeles Times employees voted yesterday on unionizing the newsroom. The results will be available on January 19.

    Lawyer Charles Harder has issued a letter on behalf of Trump to Henry Holt, the publisher of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, requesting that the company “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book.” But after the book rose to the top of Amazon’s charts, the publisher announced they would release the book today, four days before it was scheduled to hit shelves.

    An Odyssey author Daniel Mendelsohn tells the New York Times’s “By the Book” column that he has “a Dantesque fantasy” that Donald Trump would be “forced to read ‘The Art of the Deal’ over and over again, throughout eternity.”

    Literary Hub lists the many literary film adaptations to look forward to in 2018, including Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower.

  • January 4, 2018

    Roxanne Gay. Photo: Kevin Nance

    Roxane Gay has an advice column at the New York Times. In her first installment, Gay encourages two writers who are worried that they’re too old to make a career out of it. “There is no age limit to finding artistic success,” she writes. “Sometimes it happens at 22 and sometimes it happens at 72 and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.”

    Fred Bass, owner of New York’s Strand Book Store until his retirement last November, has died at the age of eighty-nine. Bass began working at the store, which his father owned, at age thirteen and took over the operation in 1956. In a 2015 interview with NY1, Bass reflected on his life’s work: “My dream was to get a big bookstore, which I’ve achieved. I’m very happy about that.”

    Laura Jakes has been hired as a deputy editor at the Washington bureau of the New York Times. Most recently the bureau’s night editor, Jakes has previously worked as the managing editor of Foreign Policy and the Baghdad bureau chief for the Associated Press.   

    Time Inc. has sold Essence magazine to outside investors led by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Shea Moisture.

    Page Six reports that new Today anchor Hoda Kotb’s salary is $7 million per year, $18 million dollars less than former anchor Matt Lauer’s $25 million-a-year salary. One anonymous source noted that while the numbers “underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News,” Lauer’s pay “reflected the long time he was on the show—25 years. If things go well, Hoda could ask for more next time if she re-ups her contract.”

  • January 3, 2018

    Vice has suspended two executives following a December report in the New York Times detailing allegations of sexual misconduct at the company. Andrew Creighton, Vice Media’s president, and Mike Germano, its chief digital officer, have both been placed on leave pending an investigation into charges against the two men. Sarah Broderick, Vice’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, announced changes on Tuesday to address the issues reported in the Times article, including hiring a new HR head, instituting mandatory sexual harassment training programs, and creating community and mentoring initiatives. As the Times reports, Broderick also told employees that Vice Media was “committed to 50/50 male/female at every level across the organization by 2020 and pay parity by the end of 2018.”  

    Helen Dunmore, 2014. Photo: Caroline Forbes.

    Poet Helen Dunmore has posthumously been awarded the Costa prize for her last collection, Inside the Wave.   

    The Washington Post is launching two new newsletters on technology and cybersecurity.

    A new biography of Richard Avedon has been criticized by the Avedon Foundation, which is asking publisher Spiegel & Grau to withdraw the book. The foundation claims that the book has factual errors and untruths, and that the book’s author, Norma Stevens, based some of her research on an unfinished manuscript by Avedon that mixed fact and fiction, though the foundation has not pointed to specific examples of this. Adam Gopnik, a friend of Avedon, told the Times, “It would be a source of grief to Dick to find himself the subject of a posthumous tell all, a genre he loudly, and often, despised.”   

    At Hazlitt, Haley Mlotek writes about women writers and self-loathing.

  • January 2, 2018

    The New York Daily News has yet to hire a new editor after the December 31 retirement of Arthur Browne, who was also serving as publisher. Though parent company Tronc knew of Browne’s impending resignation, they have not named a permanent or temporary replacement for either position. “I’ve never heard of a paper functioning without at least an acting editor in chief for any period of time,” said Jim Rich, the paper’s editor before Browne. “At a moment where local coverage is teetering on the brink of extinction, it’s depressing to think that this is the state of affairs at what was once a stalwart of local journalism.”

    Fred Moten

    Former President Barack Obama has decided to continue his tradition of sharing his lists of the best books and music from the past year. Favorite books included Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.

    The Foundation for Contemporary Arts has awarded $40,000 grants to poets Lisa Robertson, Anne Boyer, and Fred Moten.

    The Rumpus talks to Joshua Clover about protests, riots, and the differences between the two. “The protest has a logic I identify as discursive. It wants to communicate with people. . . . And then there’s the other half, which I refer to as the practical half, which is trying to take care of certain practical goals, things like destroying the power of the police,” he explained. Rioters don’t make demands. Rioters take care of business. But the protest side makes demands, and as we saw in the Civil Rights Movement, they were able to win some limited gains.”

    BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman reflects on his part in popularizing the term “fake news,” a phrase that now makes him “cringe.” Silverman had been researching and reporting on hoaxes and plagiarism in the mainstream media for years, but says that the 2016 election changed the way these stories were viewed. “I should have realized that any person, idea, or phrase—however neutral in its intention—could be twisted into a partisan cudgel,” he writes. “After the 2016 election, shocked US Democrats, looking for explanations, adopted the concept as an easy answer to the puzzle of Donald Trump’s election. And in response, Trump and his supporters saw the term as a threat and an insult — and a weapon.”

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