Journalism is like the child’s game of Telephone. The rules are simple, the execution hard. You say it here and it comes out there, sort of. News stories are also like the proverbial sausages — it is better not to see them being made. Then again, it’s good to know what you’re eating.
— from “Misadventures in Journalism”
H.B. Koplowitz explores the oxymoron of journalism ethics in this anthology of 19 “stories behind the stories” spanning four decades, from the 1976 GOP Convention in Kansas City to the 2007 incarceration of Paris Hilton in Los Angeles.
Koplowitz has been a reporter, freelancer, editor, educator and public information officer in small, medium and big cities. He’s also written three books and ghostwrote a fourth for an Illinois governor who did not go to prison. Throughout his journalism career, he has been struck by the vagaries of the profession, and has written about his experiences in a style that was once called gonzo or New Journalism.
Part 1 begins with the author crashing the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City and ends with him sneaking into the 1995 O.J. Simpson “trial of the century” in Los Angeles. In between, he goes on an ill-fated media junket to interview President Jimmy Carter in Washington, D.C.; walks on fire; stakes out a media stakeout; tries to “seduce” a source; and slips over to the other side to flack for the Illinois State Fair.
Part 2 chronicles some of his experiences editing for a wire service in Los Angeles between 1998 and 2009, when the news business was being buffeted by digitization and tabloidization. Included are stories about Matt Drudge, Meryl Streep, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Paris Hilton, the Columbia space shuttle disaster, a roller coaster death, a terrorist attack at LAX and more.
“MIJ” is also an “enhanced” ebook with links to multimedia content.* In stories that are both engaging and illuminating, Koplowitz reveals some of the ethical choices — and mistakes — journalists make under deadline pressure or in hot pursuit of scoops. A must-read for haters as well as lovers of journalism.
*Because of disputes among the major ebook distributors, the hyperlinks may work differently, or not at all, depending on your device and software. If you have an iPad, you should purchase “MIJ” from the Kindle store and view it with the Kindle for iPad app, because the links are disabled in the Nook for iPad app. If you use an iPad to purchase the PDF and it opens as a single long page in your Web browser, you should tap once on the screen and a menu should pop up giving you the option to open the PDF in iBooks. If you have the Kindle for iPad app, you can tap on “Open in …” and open the PDF in the Kindle app. If you open the PDF with the Nook app, the links will be disabled. If you download to your computer, depending on your Web browser you may need to “right click” on a PC, or “option-click” on a Mac, then open the file from your download folder. If you use the Firefox browser, to download the PDF you may have to click on an icon at the top right that looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing down.
Excerpts from “Misadventures in Journalism”: