A few weeks ago I was in the Half-Price Books in Lynnwood. I’d already made my purchases and was on my way out the door when a book on display caught my eye. At first it was just the one word title: Killed. With a title like that–in bright red, nonetheless–it’s bound to catch your eye. But then I read the subtitle: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print. I read the back and basically, it’s a collection of articles that never made it to print–some of the reasons being political, that editors thought they would be too controversial or because editors didn’t want to upset advertisers or potential advertisers. Articles such as a 1958 essay by The Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan about how women need to take college seriously, Rich Cohen’s firsthand account as a pledge for a fraternity in college and T.D. Allman‘s experiences going back to China ten years after the Tiananmen Square protests as well as catching up with three friends who were very much at the center of the action.
Now, I’ve only read a few of these stories but from what I’ve read, this book just further proves the point of my post about our First Amendment rights. I highly recommend this book to journalists both new and old because even after having read only a small handful, it has helped to restore some of my faith in the profession that I’ve lost due to the over emphasis on celebrity/popular culture. Great journalism is still out there. But then again, the fact that such great writing never really got a chance to see the light of day until this book was printed does sadden me a bit. I greatly admire and take my hat off to the book’s editor, David Wallis, for what he’s done because I don’t think there are many people who would.
Great job Mr. Wallis. I only hope that with your efforts, as well as others in the industry, that when it comes time for me to write a story that has the potential to be similarly controversial, my words will be printed. Just as how and where they are originally intended, not in a book like yours.
*Image courtesy of images.barnesandnoble.com.