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.