• August 3, 2017

    Judith Jones

    Editor and author Judith Jones died yesterday at 93. The New York Times writes that Jones—who pulled the manuscript for the diary of Anne Frank out of a reject pile and published Mastering the Art of French Cooking after it had been passed over by other publishers—“modestly ascribed her success to being in the right place at the right time.”

    Flatiron has bought former FBI director James Comey’s book, but instead of “the tell-all memoir many readers hoped for,” Entertainment Weekly writes that the book will be about leadership. The Wall Street Journal reports that the book sold for $2.5 million at auction, a price well below initial estimates. “The skeptics worried that Mr. Comey won’t dwell on the juiciest material, such as more details on run-ins with Mr. Trump or others in the administration,” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg writes. “An inside-the-room memoir would likely have brought a bigger payday, suggested publishing executives.”

    President Trump has started his own news program on his Facebook. Hosted by his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, the program offers “updates on news favorable to her father-in-law.” Trump began her newscast with a quick shoutout to the mainstream media: “I bet you haven’t heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there’s so much fake news out there.”

    The Freedom of the Press Foundation and Committee to Protect Journalists are launching a U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. The project will use be funded by money donated by Congressman Greg Gianforte, who gave $50,000 to CPJ after body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

    Poynter is keeping a running tally of all the New York Times employees who have accepted buyouts in recent months. The list includes numerous George Polk and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as critics like Michiko Kakutani, Andy Webster, and Anita Gates.

    At Literary Hub, Adam Fitzgerald talks to Sarah Schulman about conflict, abuse, and victimhood. Schulman points out that the language of abuse and victimizations is now being used to keep the powerful in their positions, rather than help the less powerful. “We have a president that tells us everyday that he is a victim, that he’s under attack,” she said. “The person with the most power sees literal descriptions of their power as an attack.”

  • August 2, 2017

    Sam Shepard. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

    Patti Smith remembers friend and collaborator Sam Shepard, who died last week from complications of ALS. “He liked packing up and leaving just like that, going west,” she writes. “He liked getting a role that would take him somewhere he really didn’t want to be, but where he would wind up taking in its strangeness; lonely fodder for future work.”

    At New York magazine, Christian Lorentzen reflects on the current demand for dystopian fiction. From Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne, to Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan, Lorentzen explains how “the present moment, with its dismal politics and cries from both sides of impending catastrophe,” has made dystopian novels more appealing to readers. “When things are bad, we want to hear how much worse they can get,” he writes. “There’s something paradoxically comforting about watching characters live through terrifying alternate realities and collapsing near futures.”

    Macmillan Publishers is moving from the Flatiron Building in Chelsea to new offices in downtown Manhattan. Publisher’s Weekly notes that as the building’s only tenant, “Macmillan has become associated with the skyscraper to the point where Bob Miller chose to call his new imprint Flatiron Books when he joined Macmillan in 2013.” The move will be completed in 2019.

    After numerous scoops by pro-Trump on White House staff shake-ups were confirmed, Axios writes that this access is making right-wing news organizations seem more trustworthy. “The fake stories make it hard to spot the true news, but for others, the true news gives credibility to the misinformation.”

    Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler has filed a lawsuit against the network over a now-retracted story about the murder of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich. Wheeler claims that Fox News “intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government,” and that a reporter “created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.”

    Columbia Journalism Review talks to former NBC reporter Anthony Ponce about quitting his job, becoming a Lyft driver, and creating the Backseat Rider podcast, which is based on conversations he has with his passengers. Ponce says that the new job has changed his life in many ways, especially financially. “I moved my family back in with my parents. My wife and I are renting out our house, and I also took a job part-time on-air stuff with a company called Dose for a morning show on the CW. The podcast hasn’t grown audience-wise where it could be my full-time gig … yet,” he said. “On the fulfillment side, on a scale from 1 to 10, I’m at a 10.”

  • August 1, 2017

    Mic examines MSNBC’s thwarted evolution into a centrist news channel. Chairman Andrew Lack had been planning to reorganize the network and increase its ratings by cancelling opinion-based programming in favor of more balanced news coverage. “But the election of Donald Trump has complicated that evolution,” Kelsey Sutton writes, “raising the profile and popularity of MSNBC’s liberal hosts just as Lack sought to dial back the network’s liberal identity.”

    Although the White House claims that Anthony Scaramucci’s departure was meant to give the new chief of staff a “clean slate,” that may be an impossible task for the Trump administration. From lies about crowd size at the inauguration, to the resignation of Michael Flynn and claims of surveillance by Barack Obama, Erik Wemple writes that “in light of all that, there’ll be no clean slates at this White House, no matter how many people are pushed out the door.”

    Actor, playwright, and author Sam Shepard died last week at 73. The New York Times remembers him through their reviews of his plays, books, and movies.

    Gwendolyn Brooks

    At the Times, Claudia Rankine reflects on the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks, as found in two new anthologies honoring the poet. Referring to a reader’s report on Brooks from the 1940s, in which novelist Richard Wright wrote that “America needs a voice like hers,” Rankine writes that Wright’s claim is confirmed by “the hundreds of artists represented in these two new anthologies, poets who have used her work as a prompt or a point of engagement.”

    Poynter talks to Dodai Stewart, the editor in chief of Splinter, the website formerly known as Fusion. Although Splinter has hired a number of former Gawker and Gizmodo Media Group staff, Stewart maintains that the site is not trying to replace Gawker. “Splinter is the new Splinter. Splinter is not the new Gawker,” she said. “I’m looking forward and not back.”

    MTV president Chris McCarthy talks about his plans to revive the network, which include bringing back Total Request Live and abandoning MTV News’s longform project. “MTV at its best—whether it’s news, whether it’s a show, whether it’s a docu-series—is about amplifying young people’s voices,” he said. “We put young people on the screen, and we let the world hear their voices. We shouldn’t be writing 6,000-word articles on telling people how to feel.”