• 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.”

  • December 29, 2017

    Jamil Smith

    The full manuscript of Milo Yiannopoulos’s cancelled autobiography, including editor comments, has been made available in court filings by Simon & Schuster. Editorial comments range from questions about sources to requests to “DELETE UGH.” Though some have praised the editor for calling out Yiannopoulos’s bigotry, Jamil Smith pointed out that editor and publisher were not necessarily motivated by any moral concerns. “The editor’s brutal comments are somewhat entertaining,” he writes, “but none of this should distract from the fact that they sought to make his bigotry both digestible and marketable.”

    BuzzFeed examines the top fifty fake news stories from Facebook in 2017, which were shared two million times more than similar stories from last year.

    HuffPost editorial director Howard Fineman is moving to NBC. He’ll be working on stories about national politics.

    At the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg reviews Steven Spielberg’s The Post, and details the ways in which the movie fails to give the Times enough credit for their own articles on the Pentagon Papers.

    Margaret Sullivan reflects on her summer spent talking to residents of Angola, New York about their attitude toward the media. Rather than finding outright distrust of journalists, Sullivan said that she found more evidence that, more disturbingly, people are increasingly “indifferent” to current events. “Take the nail technician in her 20s who told me that she follows current events only glancingly,  mostly on Facebook. National news, she said, doesn’t seem relevant to her life,” Sullivan recalled. “Like so many others I interviewed — about half — she didn’t vote in the presidential election. I left the salon with a great manicure and a heavy heart.”

  • December 28, 2017

    Paul Yoon

    Literary Hub contributors detail the books published over the past year that they wished had gotten more attention. Claire Messud recommends Paul Yoon’s The Mountain, while Tracy K. Smith recommends Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s Waiting for the Light.

    BuzzFeed White House reporter Adrian Carrasquillo has been fired after an investigation into inappropriate messages he sent to a coworker.

    Crooked Media talks to NBC correspondent and New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow about his reporting on Harvey Weinstein and the movement against sexual harassment and assault that followed the story’s publication. “It’s understandable and I think mostly a good thing that we’re having hard conversations about those issues now, but I do think in the end we’re going to need to separate out the different types of behavior we’re talking about,” he said. “As we cope with this initial and completely appropriate moment of anguish about these issues, start to then find equilibrium in how we respond to each of the different variants we’re talking about.”

    The Wall Street Journal talks to Facebook contractors about their work monitoring the site for violent, sexual, or otherwise banned content.

    Over the past year, Fox News has increased the staff of its website to more than one hundred employees in an effort to compete with conservative news sites like Breitbart and the Daily Caller. As a result, the tone of its reporting has changed: Politico’s Jason Schwartz writes that “a website that has been more closely identified with Shepard Smith’s brand of reporting has now moved closer to the mold of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.”

    Longtime celebrity reporter George Wayne reflects on Donald Trump’s changes over the past three decades. “It’s like watching an ogre metastasize. I’m just thinking a lot of us knew the man who was so fun and so charming, he always had his quirks,” he remembered. “Who knew that he would become this Islamaphobic, homophobic racist?”

  • December 27, 2017

    In the wake of the New York Times story on Vice’s “degrading and uncomfortable” workplace culture, in which more than two dozen women reported that they had been subjected to, or witnessed, sexual misconduct at the office, Vice founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi apoligzed: “Listening to our employees over the past year, the truth is inescapable: from the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive. Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. . . . It happened on our watch, and ultimately we let far too many people down. We are truly sorry for this.”

    The Library of Congress has given up on their quixotic plan to archive all tweets. Beginning next year, the LOC will save tweets on “a very selective basis.”  

    A. G. Sulzberger

    On the New Yorker’s Radio Hour podcast, David Remnick talks to A. G. Sulzberger, the Times’s new publisher. The job won’t be an easy one, as Sulzberger admits: “It’s definitely an honor and a privilege—and a daunting one. Maybe the best note I got from a colleague was, “Congratulations/Sorry!” Which I think is probably a statement of the pretty profound challenges facing journalism in this moment.”

    The Times reports on unionization efforts at digital media companies. Vox Media employees announced that they were planning to form a union last month, following successful labor-organizing campaigns at companies such as Vice Media, ThinkProgress, and HuffPost. The article quotes Kim Kelly, a reporter for a Vice music site, Noisey, about the decision to unionize: “People were fed up and broke and anxious about the future, and the union gave them a way to take control and force things to change.”

    Literary Hub recaps the best reviewed fiction and nonfiction of the year.

  • December 22, 2017

    In Bill de Blasio’s first formal interview with journalists from the now-shuttered local news sites Gothamist and DNAinfo, the New York mayor said that he would be open to using public funds to support independent media. “What’s happening now in New York, if it were to continue, will undermine democracy,” he said. “I’d be open to actually seeing the city invest in [local journalism]. . . . The BBC model, not always a perfect example, but in the best sense — there’s definitely a place for that.”

    Jacqueline Rose

    Journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas is working on a memoir about his life as an undocumented immigrant. Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen will be published by Dey Street.

    Jacqueline Rose, Val McDermid, Leo Robson, and Leanne Shapton will join Kwame Anthony Appiah as judges for the 2018 Man Booker prize.

    The PEN America Foundation has released their 2018 Literary Awards longlist. Nominees include Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart, Wendy Lesser’s You Say to Brick, and Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse. Finalists will be announced in January.

    Photojournalist Alexei Wood was one of six defendants found not guilty yesterday in a trial stemming from their arrest during protests of Donald Trump’s inauguration. HuffPost reports that the case “was seen as a bellwether that could determine whether the government will proceed with the prosecutions of many of the nearly 200 other defendants who have trials scheduled throughout the next year.”

    Politico’s Jack Shafer mourns the slow death of the alt-weekly. Quoting a nineteenth century Chicago journalist—”It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell”—Shafer writes that “at their best, alt-weeklies subscribed to this quotation like a mission statement. With their passing our cities become duller, hell-less places.”

  • December 21, 2017

    Jann Wenner. Photo: Albert Chau

    Variety owner Penske Media Company has bought a controlling stake in Rolling Stone parent company Wenner Media for $100 million. Jann Wenner will stay on as editorial director and his company will maintain “majority control and editorial oversight” of the magazine. In an earlier article about the company’s possible buyers, Joe Pompeo noted that Penske was one of the prospective buyers that current employees were “cautiously optimistic” about. “They are a company that understands how to straddle the print and digital landscape and has had some success in breathing new life into legacy brands,” one unnamed journalist explained.

    “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian has landed a seven-figure, two-book deal with Scout Press in the US. The first book, a collection of short stories titled You Know You Want This, is planned for release in 2019.

    Ruth Franklin, Sigrid Nunez, and other Paris Review contributors list their favorite books of 2017.

    The New York Times has finished its investigation of reporter Glenn Thrush, who was accused of sexual misconduct. Thrush will remain on suspension until January, when he will return to the paper but be taken off the White House reporting team. “We understand that our colleagues and the public at large are grappling with what constitutes sexually offensive behavior in the workplace and what consequences are appropriate,” editor in chief Dean Baquet said, in explaining why Thrush would return to work. “Each case has to be evaluated based on individual circumstances. We believe this is an appropriate response to Glenn’s situation.”

    BuzzFeed has obtained internal emails from Twitter that show even the company’s leadership struggled to understand the platform’s rules on abuse and trolling. After the company removed Milo Yiannopoulos’s verification checkmark in 2016, the former Breitbart editor requested that it be reinstated. In an email discussion, employees attempted to define the function of the blue checkmark and understand whether or not Yiannopoulos was qualified to have one. “I want to make sure we are doing the right thing here and not responding to external pressure or attacks from him,” one staffer wrote. “We’ve already taken the PR hit, so let’s make sure we are focused on getting this right!”

  • December 20, 2017

    Zora Neale Hurston

    HarperCollins is publishing Zora Neale Hurston’s book about the last survivor of the slave trade. Barracoon is comprised of Hurston’s 1931 interviews with Cudjo Lewis, a former slave who was brought to the US in 1860 on one of the last recorded slave ships, and will be released next May.

    Literary Hub has released their list of their favorite books of the year.

    This weekend, Cornel West published an article renewing his critique of Ta-Nehisi Coates, calling Coates “the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle.” The article quickly spurred commentary and criticism on Twitter, with the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb saying he was “frankly embarrassed by @CornelWest’s threadbare commentary,” and white supremacist Richard Spencer saying of West, “He’s not wrong.” When all was said and done, Coates decided to quit Twitter, leaving his one-million-plus followers with this message: “Peace, y’all. i didn’t get in it for this.”    

    Move over, People. AARP: The Magazine has become America’s most-read print magazine, with 38.3 million readers.

    Verso is giving away a free e-book of highlights from their 2017 catalog, including excerpts from China Miéville’s October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing, and David Neiwert’s Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. 

    Edward St. Aubyn talks to The Guardian books podcast about his new novel, an update of King Lear that tells the story of a powerful patriarch at the head of a global media company.

  • December 19, 2017

    Kristen Roupenian. Photo: Elisa Roupenian Toha

    Kristen Roupenian, author of the viral New Yorker short story “Cat Person,” has sold her debut novel to a publisher in the UK, and a bidding war on the US rights for the book has reached over $1 million.

    Elif Shafak talks to the New York Times about her new novel, Three Daughters of Eve.

    Novelist Han Kang tells The Guardian that if it wasn’t for her migraines, she may not have become a writer at all. “My migraines are always reminding me that I am human,” she explained. “Because when a migraine comes, I have to stop my work, my reading, my routine, so it’s always making me humble, helping me realise I’m mortal and vulnerable.”

    At the Times, Rachel Abrams details her attempts to convince Google that she is still alive. Abrams found that searching for her name on the site brings up biographical details about “a better-known writer with the same name,” who died four years ago.

    The Verge reports that Twitter’s new rules about threatening and abusive content will apply to actions both on and off the platform, but that they do not apply to “military and government entities.”

    Washington City Paper employees will have their pay cut by 40 percent next year. Besides dropping editorial salaries to less than $30,000 per year, the move is “guaranteed to destroy morale even more inside the paper,” which has been up for sale for three months.

    The Atlantic is reintroducing a paywall to its website. Beginning in January, readers will be able to access ten articles per month before subscribing. The magazine said the change is not “a desperation move”—rather, they are responding to changing ideas about paying for digital content. “We’re looking around and seeing peers who we respect getting people to pay for their digital content,” president Bob Cohn said. “We live in a world of Netflix and Hulu and Spotify, where people are willing to pay for digital services.”