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Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print (Nation Books) Paperback – June 4, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Editor Wallis calls this anthology "a kind of literary orphanage... that rescues remarkable stories that editors commissioned, then abandoned." Magazines drop articles for various reasons, but these selections were killed either because they might have attracted expensive lawsuits, or they offended a magazine's advertisers or editors. Since revealing such censorship is this collection's goal, a brief history and cause of death precedes each article. The collection begins with a 1942 book review by George Orwell (killed by the Observer), an early feminist piece (1958) by Betty Friedan killed by McCall's and a 1963 discourse by Terry Southern (killed by Esquire) on Doctor Strangelove. Then, the compilation moves forward into the past two decades. There are articles about health problems from smoking, bias in the coverage of Palestinian struggles and violations of child labor law—all reminders of the many articles on these subjects that haven't seen print. Most memorable, however, are the in-depth exposés, like Ann Louise Bardach's piece on Reverend Moon or Jon Entine's on Anita Roddick and the Body Shop. These articles not only provide solid, usable research on their subjects, but stand as models of investigative journalism. The volume as a whole reminds readers that even apparently "nonpolitical" magazines like GQ and Vanity Fair often censor writers to protect their bottom line. This is a provocative compilation for journalism students and fun reading for leftist intellectuals.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Nation Books
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (June 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560255811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560255819
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,694,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on December 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read very few non-fiction books, and most of them are histories. I DO read journalism every day. But this is a first in that I've just finished reading and am now reviewing an entire BOOK comprised solely of journalism---ahem, it was a Christmas gift.

And, so, what do I think about this book about killed (or "spiked" seems to be the operative word in Journalese, at least in this book) pieces of journalism? I feel grateful to the gods, or Fate, or genes or whatever powers that may be or may not be that I never felt compelled to go into journalism. Even Joe Conason, whose blurb for the book tops the front cover, says in his review for Salon that the overall effect of the book is one of depression. True, literary endeavours, with which I'm more familiar, can be just as cruel and cutthroat when it comes to publication, but this is to be expected. In the arts, it's either feast or famine - Mostly famine- One ends up working for the sake of art itself. If it ends up finding grace with some publisher or agent, it's a nice lagniappe. If not, not. But journalists are in it to have their work published, posthaste. It's not so much that these pieces were killed that irks one (although, of course, that plays a part), it's the red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of the day in and day out life of a journalist that I found monumentally depressing.

Well, a few comments and I'm done: The most robust article (unsurprisingly) is P.J. O'Rourke's "A Ramble Through Lebanon," written in O'Rourke's uncanny, inimitable style combining erudition with a keen eye and ear for the absurdities of life. The "spike" was made by Tina Brown, who ends up being the "killer" of many of these pieces, who simply wrote, "You can't make fun of people dying." What a blockhead! It's clear that Ms.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an anthology of articles that have been rejected by print media but the article by Robert Fisk gives examples of self censorship in TV media too. Fisk's article "Remember 'the Whys' was killed by Harper's magazine in 2002. It dealt with Israel. Mike Sager's article was also killed and it was about the "gripping account of life in a squalid Palestinian refugee camp." The Washington Post Magazine killed that article, called "Travels With Bassem", in 1988. The editor of this book said in an interview, "I realized that I had a book after I read 'Travels With Bassem,' a remarkable piece by Mike Sager about living in a Palestinian refugee camp during the first Intifada."
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I have not finished reading all the articles in "Killed..." because it's that kind of book; some you'll read and some you won't. It certainly was worth the price and if it weren't for the overly stimulated front cover, it's a good one to have lying around.

What is unfortunate for some of the articles is that there is often a shelf-life to humor. And what was "too hot to print" may really be past its prime.

But there are some real gems. I loved Erik Hedegaards piece on Mellencamp's battle with smoking. A rather incomplete ending, but the article illustrates how journalists thrive on taking advantage of the weak and famous.

What I found most interesting about the articles I read, was not that they were necessarily "Great Journalism or Too Hot to Print," but that they illustrate how advertisers dictate content. Any medium that is primarily subsidized by advertising risks rejection.

I don't know if I'd consider this book as "ground-breaking" as the back cover suggests, but there are lots of good pieces that should interest all sorts of readers.
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On the surface of it, Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print is a good idea. You can tell a lot about a culture by looking at what it isn't allowed to read, but who made David Wallis God?

The fact that most national and international magazines are owned by corporations which have agendas of their own is true, and very possibly damaging to the objectivity of the editorial policy of the publications so owned, but who made David Wallis an objective observer all of a sudden?

Who says any writing is, or even can be, objective? Who annointed David Wallis to determine what is great journalism anyway? What's to say his selection process is any less biased by the forces that have made him than the editor who initially rejected the pieces he features in his book?

I think that David Wallis has done the world a service by pointing out some of these overlooked articles, but there is a kind of autocracy in his approach to this subject which he is unwilling to admit.

After a recent lecture, I asked Mr. Wallis if he honestly thought press censorship today is actually worse than when the robber barron William Randolph Hearst used his iron hand to crush reporters who did not agree with him. Wallis just reiterated that grave offenses had been committed today.

In the 1830s and 40s in America you'd buy the newspaper you wanted according to what spin you wanted on your news. It may be a little more subtle now, but people will be people and there's no avoiding that. Virtually all publications have a known bias, and we all manage to find the point of view we want to read in our magazines and newspapers. We know the rules.

In this book, David Wallis seems to be making a plea for something that is not humanly possible, and he fails to understand that he is human too.

I guess I just wish this book were a little more self-aware.
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