March 31, 2013

"The dominant and most deep-dyed trait of the journalist is his timorousness."

"Where the novelist fearlessly plunges into the water of self-exposure, the journalist stands trembling on the shore in his beach robe. Not for him the strenuous athleticism — which is the novelist’s daily task — of laying out his deepest griefs and shames before the world. The journalist confines himself to the clean, gentlemanly work of exposing the griefs and shames of others."

Janet Malcolm, "The Journalist and the Murderer," page 159.

6 comments:

bpm4532 said...

God help us if these "journalists" start to say what they really think.

edutcher said...

They have been for about 40 years.

edutcher said...

Consider their gang mentality.

Richard Dolan said...

What possessed you to dredge this up? You've written about Ms. Malcolm and her books, including this one, before. But why today, Easter Sunday?

Whatever the reason, Ms. Malcolm was a better journalist than she allows to the more officially enrolled guild members (as in the passage you quote, and many others like it). But her own great strength as a writer was not in these half-baked generalizations, but in her exceedingly sharp eye, and even sharper pen, in describing others. She preferred to describe, not the griefs of others, but their failings and smallness.

Ann Althouse said...

Just something I was reading.

Kenneth Burns said...

One of the things that made 1960s New Journalists new is that they used fiction-writing techniques. You still see some journalists laying out their deepests griefs and shames, in alternative weeklies for example.