April 12, 2018

Michelle Dean. Photo: John Midgely

Michelle Dean talks to Hazlitt’s Anna Furman about the economics of being a writer, not using the first person, and white privilege in her new book, Sharp. Furman noted that, besides Zora Neale Hurston, all the women in Dean’s book were white. “The book is predicated on the idea that not only do these women sort of sound alike, but they also had concrete personal connections. Renata Adler was engaged to Mary McCarthy’s son; Nora Ephron met Dorothy Parker as a child,” Dean explained. “The problem with social segregation, and, frankly, intellectual segregation, is that I couldn’t make those connections exist where they didn’t exist. You know, racism poisons everything.”

Staff of the Chicago Tribune are preparing to unionize, a move that NPR calls “a historic move at a paper that, for decades, had taken a hard-line stance against unions.” Although parent company Tronc recently sold the Los Angeles Times after that paper’s staff unionized, Chicago Tribune employees feel that their concerns outweigh their fear of potential consequences. “They have looted the company, and the Tronc executives have paid themselves outsized salaries,” home page editor Charlie Johnson said. “The motivation [for unionizing] was the idea that the newsroom would finally have a voice and say in how things operated.”

On his return to the US from a vacation with his family, columnist Shaun King was detained at JFK Airport and questioned about his involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts Jr writes that “one is hard-pressed to explain what happened Monday as anything other than a clumsy attempt at political intimidation, the government’s unsubtle way of letting a critic know that Big Brother is watching.”

Matthew Lacombe discusses his research on NRA editorials in American Rifleman magazine and how they’ve impacted gun owners’ views on gun laws.

Splinter’s Hamilton Nolan proposes a radical idea for funding journalism: Take back the money that Facebook, Google, and other tech companies have made by siphoning away print-ad dollars and give it back to publications. “It has always blown my mind that big, successful tech companies do not directly fund journalism,” he writes. “It’s cheap, it’s good for the country, and it helps to perpetuate the demonstrably successful business model that has gotten the companies this far already.”