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FW: Crosspost: H-Florida Review, McMullen on Pleasants. _Orange Journalism_

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  • A.J. Wright
    fyi..Alabama author Rick Bragg is included in this collection of oral histories of Florida journalists...aj wright // ajwright@uab.edu ... From: H-NET List for
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2004
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      fyi..Alabama author Rick Bragg is included in this collection of oral
      histories of Florida journalists...aj wright // ajwright@...


      -----Original Message-----
      From: H-NET List for Southern History [mailto:H-SOUTH@...]On
      Behalf Of Ian Binnington, H-South
      Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 2:12 PM
      To: H-SOUTH@...
      Subject: Crosspost: H-Florida Review, McMullen on Pleasants. _Orange
      Journalism_


      H-NET BOOK REVIEW
      Published by H-Florida@... (January, 2004)

      Julian M. Pleasants. _Orange Journalism: Voices from Florida Newspapers_.
      The Florida History and Culture Series. Gainesville: University Press of
      Florida, 2003. x + 339 pp. Index. $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-8130-2653-9.

      Reviewed for H-Florida by David Lee McMullen <dlmcmull@...>,
      Departments of History, University of Aberdeen/University of North Carolina
      at Charlotte.

      From Hot Type to the Internet: Florida Newspapers in Transition

      As a native Floridian and former Florida journalist acquainted with several
      of the individuals interviewed and discussed in _Orange Journalism_ , I
      found the book to be accurate, insightful, a pleasure to read and an
      important contribution toward recording the history of Florida newspapers
      during the Twentieth Century.

      _Orange Journalism_ is a compilation of fifteen oral histories, each
      providing a slightly different perspective of print journalism in a state
      noted for innovative newspapers. The diversity of this collection can be
      found in the observations of men and women; African Americans, Hispanics and
      whites; editors, publishers, reporters, columnists, cartoonists and sports
      writers; representing national, daily and weekly publications. The author,
      Julian M. Pleasants, is director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
      and a professor of history at the University of Florida. A foreword is
      provided by the series editors, Raymond Arsenault and Gary R. Mormino.

      Among the more fascinating interviews were those outside the mainstream of
      Florida journalism: Garth Reeves, long-time publisher of the _Miami Times_,
      South Florida's leading African American newspaper, discussed the role of
      his publication in the desegregation of Miami; Tommy Greene, a past
      president of the Florida Press Association and publisher of several North
      Florida weeklies, talked about the realities of starting a small town
      publication and keeping it profitable; and Horacio Aguirre, founder of
      _Diario las Americas_, explained how he runs an international Spanish
      language newspaper from Miami. Discussing his editorial policy during the
      violence in Liberty City in 1988, Reeves noted, "Editorially, we did not
      call them 'riots.' We called them 'protests.' Sure, everybody else called
      them 'riots,' but, editorially, we were saying that the people were not just
      rioting to be rioting. They were protesting wrongs that were piled upon
      them year after year and that it looked like nothing was being done about
      it" (p. 202).

      Among the most colorful oral histories are those of Rick Bragg, an Alabama
      farm boy who grew-up to become a top writer for the _St. Petersburg Times_
      and the _New York Times_, and Carl Hiaasen, a columnist for the _Miami
      Herald_ and successful novelist. Commenting on the quality of newspaper
      writing these days, Bragg said, "I'd encourage writers to takes chances, not
      in their reporting so much as in their writing. Everybody is not a stylist.
      Everyone is not intended to write like Tennessee Williams after a
      half-bottle of whiskey. But one reason that there is so much damn deadly
      dull writing in this country is because writers are being told by their
      editors to 'save it for your novel'" (p. 244).

      Only two women are included, which seems odd when reporting on an industry
      where women have taken a significantly greater leadership role during the
      past several decades. The two are Diane McFarlin, publisher of the
      _Sarasota Herald-Tribune_, and Lucy Morgan, an investigative reporter for
      the _St. Petersburg Times_. McFarlin observed that quality journalism and
      profits are not mutually exclusive. Referring to Nelson Poynter, the former
      publisher of the _St. Petersburg Times_, she said: He "demonstrated to
      probably the most memorable extent that great journalism makes a great
      business.His standards were immensely high, and he structured his
      organization to support those high standards" (p. 123).

      Others included in the volume are: Al Neuharth, _USA Today_; David Lawrence,
      _Miami Herald_; Fred Pettijohn, _South Florida Sun-Sentinel_; Tippen
      Davidson, _News-Journal_ (Daytona Beach); Earle Bowden, _Pensacola
      News-Journal_; Loyal Frisbie, _Polk County Democrat_; Don Wright, _Palm
      Beach Post_; and Edwin Pope, _Miami Herald_.

      Noticeably missing from this collection are the perspectives of the
      Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Orlando newspapers, leading broadcast
      journalists, and the countless reporters who abandoned the profession
      because of long hours, low salaries or managers who openly manipulated news
      coverage to meet the editorial policies or business interests of their
      publications.

      In several incidents, the interviewers failed to push deeper into some of
      the tougher issues facing Florida newspapers, including how the business
      side of the publication influences news coverage and what the future of
      journalism holds for newspapers, especially as the Internet continues to
      develop. In a few cases, there is a noticeable "chumminess" between the
      interviewer and interviewee that distracts from the quality of the
      discussion.

      My personal disappointment is why wasn't this volume done years ago? Anyone
      familiar with Florida newspapers can quickly name several individuals, no
      longer with us, who would have contributed significantly to such a volume.

      All that said, _Orange Journalism_ is a valuable addition to Florida's
      historical archives, and should be of interest to anyone who wants to know
      more about newspapers or the Sunshine State.

      Copyright (c) 2004 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the
      redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational
      purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location,
      date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social
      Sciences Online. For other uses contact the Reviews editorial staff:
      hbooks@mail.h-net.msu.edu.
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