and My Precious Freedom of the Press
has set in. It started earlier this year when I saw a
movie about a shop in San Francisco that repaired and
sold old typewriters. This week I saw The Post.
I could almost smell the printer’s ink. And the
longing I felt for renewed respect for what the press
does for our democracy was palpable.
only a few days later I received a copy of a book called
Stop the Press: How the Mormon Church Tried to Silence
the Salt Lake Tribune by an old pal of mine in every
sense of the word—James W. Ure. We both started
learning our craft as “reporters” for our
high school newspaper, The Thunderbolt, an apt name for
a bunch of young muckraking journalism apprentices bent
on making out school (the world, to us!) a better place.
It happened to be nonfiction published by Prometheus about
the newspaper that gave me my first professional job in
journalism, The Salt Lake Tribune. Its crack
marketing department had dubbed it “A Great Pulitzer
Prize Winning Newspaper” for its coverage of a devastating
earthquake in Alaska in the 1950s. Jim’s book is
about, in spite of the US separation of church and state,
tried to silence its voice which was probably the only
alternative voice in the State of Utah—a contrarian
voice in a state where conservatism ruled and the newspaper
they own, The Deseret News, is under their jurisdiction.
readers who happen to be conservative may think that is
not a problem. Newspapering is a business, after all,
and in a capitalist society, businesses are competitive.
Some win, some lose. If they aren’t journalists
or lawyers or constitutionalists they may not be familiar
with the First Amendment.
I think they should be just as devout about protecting
both power and the freedom of the press as I am, because
all of us are writers. As writers, we all enjoy the protections
of that amendment. We can choose to write what we want.
Put our opinions in a book or on the web—from academic
studies to erotica if we so choose. We can rant. Do satire
(which I was once told by a British journalists Americans
don’t really understand!). Say exactly what we think
about anyone as long as they are public figures or can
prove that what we are saying is fact and not libelous.
That is why Michael Wolf’s new book, Fire and
Fury, is supported by its reputable publisher, Henry
Holt. And despite their distribution booboos, it sold
out in its first and second days on bookstores’
shelves. According to Publishes’ Weekly,
it was the “hottest book of the year.” To
their credit, Holt is standing by its author in spite
of the political kerfuffle and printing as many books
and shipping them as fast as they can to fill their orders
for one million books. If they are smart—will print
using digital presses as well as offset so they miss as
few sales as possible.
the longing I feel for the days when Wolf’s right
to report a story he feels the public should know can
never be universal. But I hope writers everywhere (and
readers who benefit from the choices available because
of this freedom) will stand up for Michael—and my
friend Jim. For their right to write, so to speak. Regardless
of whether their beliefs—political, religious, or
gender-related may be. Freedom has always been something
that runs both upstream and downstream. When we shut freedom
down, we may suffer when someone who agrees with us no
longer has that right or when the tables turn and we are
the ones being shut down
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a
sapphire among the newly-published.)
is a writer these days. Maybe my multi
Frugal Editor will remind them of
the skills they already have, help polish
them to give them more confidence, and
give them some new ones that will help
them enter an industry without fear. They
will probably love knowing that lots of
rules that stifle our creativity aren’t
rules at all, that we get to make style
choices. Emphasis on the word choices.
newest book is a full book of poetry.
Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Wisconsin
Bookwatch says, “[Carolyn Howard-Johnson
is] an exceptionally skilled wordsmith,
her poetry will linger in the mind and
memory long after the book itself has
been finished and set back upon the shelf.
Very highly recommended for community
and academic library Contemporary American
Poetry collections . . .” Find Imperfect
Echoes at Amazon
And, yes, I’ll admit that it may
have poems in it that you don’t
agree with it. And maybe it will have
some you do! Cover art by Richard Conway
Jackson who is serving twenty-five years
to life in a California State prison for
receiving stolen property.
here for a list of Carolyn's
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