Undead Journalism: A Summer Book List

The semester’s over, so now it’s time for the professor to hit the books…

OK, so perhaps I’ll also find time to tune up the banjo, guitar and ukulele, restring the old autoharp I bought a little while ago, and track down the old songbooks with “Newspapermen Meet Such Interesting People” and maybe “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy.”

But my reading list is already growing like mad, with everything from Appalachian murder ballads to a zombie apocalypse.

What do they all have in common?

Newspapers and journalism, of course. By August I’ll have expanded my list of possible readings (Books: The Truth with a Dragon Tattoo) for students enrolled in my fall course, “Portrayal of the Journalist in Film, Fiction and Popular Culture.”

I’ve already had interlibrary loan get me a microfilm copy of a rare “boy’s book” about a teenage news photographer, by Mildred Wirt Benson, creator of the Nancy Drew series. I’ve already read a couple of her Penny Parker books about a teenage girl reporter (Benson, a reporter, liked Penny better than Nancy), and I’m curious to see why the photographer series didn’t, er, develop.

The more adult items on my own summer reading list right now are Alchemy of MurderThe Devil Amongst the Lawyers, Anna Zenger and maybe Mira Grant’s “Newsflesh” series, although I’m not sure I want to be tempted into a zombie trilogy (Feed, Deadline, Countdown) — even one with that bloody RSS-feed icon on the right as one of its book covers. Come to think of it, I lost a chunk of last summer to a trilogy-plus-one that featured Nellie Bly and Sherlock Holmes on a trail of bloody murders with echoes of Dracula and Jack the Ripper.

For a dose of reality and inspiration, I’ve  ordered real-life newspaper hero Philip Meyer’s autobiography, Paper Route.

I’m also intrigued by The Daily Edge pages and videos promoting Richard Hine’s Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch, but I’d rather read about reporters solving crimes or chasing zombies than try to find a barrel of laughs over Dilbert-style business-consultant nitwits and clueless publishers destroying the newspaper business. (Actually, what alerted me to the book was when Hine followed me @bobstep on Twitter, and I noticed his profile line “I wrote a novel about zombie newspapers in the age of vampire social media.”)

That’s enough for now. I’m keeping the list on its own page at JHeroes.com, which in the fall may double as a discussion page for the course. Visitors welcome!

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in fiction, film, jheroes, Journalism, media studies, Newspapers, Radford
One comment on “Undead Journalism: A Summer Book List
  1. tkarmel says:

    I’ll try again since I hadn’t logged into word press (forgot password — how do you keep track of the damn things)?
    why not some fiction: The Still Point, The Tiger’s Wife and countless others
    Or as a former mentor once said “oh, well…..” I use that former mentor’s advice repeatedly with my U of C jour students (that’s where I landed)

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