Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Salon

Investigative Journalists Are Storytellers, Too…

What is an Investigative Journalist?

One set of broad identifiers is on the JournalismFund.EU site:

  • Critical approach – focus is on what does not work and in one way or another can be described as anomaly.
  • Important subject – only a question of importance for the common good can motivate the amount of effort and resources, that very well may have to be invested in the research as well as the criticism uttered in the publication.
  • Own initiative – journalists/editors decide, what is important.
  • Own research – the reporter gathers information and documents, sometimes in spite of tough resistance.
  • Own analysis – the information gathered and the documents are evaluated. An expert can assist in the analysis, but publication does not depend on what someone says.
  • Exclusivity – the public learns important information, that else would not have been in the open.

And, an article in Salon explores, Why We’re Living in the Golden Age of Investigative Journalism

“For investigative reporting, injustice is the gift that just keeps giving….These may be tough times, lean times, difficult times, but don’t be fooled: they’re also boom times.  There can be no question that, if you’re a reader with access to the Internet, you’re living in a new golden age of investigative journalism.”

Yet, if you read the broad definition of what an investigative journalists does (in the quote from the JournalismFund site), the focus of such a journalist’s work need not be pure injustice…

FlavourMag has an article called, Courageous And Unstoppable: Award-Winning Journalist Jenny Kleeman Sets The Record Straight.

Jenny Kleeman -- Investigative Journalist

Jenny Kleeman — Investigative Journalist

I’ll use Ms. Kleeman as an example of a storytelling journalist with a few excerpts from the FlavourMag article:

“Having tiptoed through war-torn countries, tackling corruption and appearing as a witness in the trial of the first ever Nigerian trafficker to be convicted in the UK, Jenny’s standing on the frontline as a narrator is astonishing”

I do believe a “narrator” is telling a story or tale or, at least, a report…

“I think you have to remember when you’re in emotionally difficult situations that the story is not about you, so you must be able to keep your composure, or at least save the bulk of your emotions when you’re not on camera.”

Probably don’t need to point this out but she did say “story”…

And, she’s apparently kept her humanity:

“You think maybe I would be a bit more cynical having seen the things that I have seen but actually, it’s made me a bit of a hippie as I’ve come away with a really positive view on human nature.”

And, Jenny also reveals a bit of behind the scenes knowledge:

“Part of the way that we get access is through local people who we work with. Every film that I work on I have a local producer, they are called fixers in the business, but in reality that means it’s a local person who makes all the calls for us and whose judgement we rely on in every single situation. What usually happens is we would come up with an idea for a story and they would be our guide, the quality of the producer can make or break a film. I have worked on films with some remarkable people, as well as some who were not so great and you really do see the difference on screen.”


I’ll give you a link to Jenny’s site and ask you to watch a video, then decide if investigative journalists can be storytellers (in fact, fiction writers would do well to notice how these folks tell their stories...):

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A Saving Grace for the Publishing World

“…the first quarter of the year, [was] a period during which sales of hardback books slumped and e-books fell precipitously…”

Audiobook Narrators

originally posted to Flickr by Steve Bowbrick at

That quote is in an article on Salon‘s site that I’m reporting on today: Stars of the Spoken Word: Meet the Audiobook Narrators Who Are Quietly Saving Book Publishing.

This excerpt almost glows:

“Even in these cynical, ruthlessly pragmatic days, where art has become ‘content’ and many have lost faith in the ability of literature to illuminate our lives, there remains one dogged subculture that believes deeply in the power of the aesthetic. To them, the arts still have something holy about them.

“These idealists are audiobook narrators.”

I must admit I’ve listened to nearly no audiobooks…

Not sure why, except, perhaps that I’m a writer and I need to stay at a reading speed that lets my writer’s mind do a bit of scrutiny; and, perhaps, also, that the voice of the narrator isn’t what I’m used to hearing in my head :-)

As usual, I’ll share a few more excerpts to encourage you to read the full Salon article:

“…the boom in audiobooks — sales of which increased by 35.3 percent in the first quarter of the year… — shows a rare bit of good news for the publishing world. ‘It’s definitely the fastest growing part of the publishing industry these days’, Annie Coreno, reviews editor for Publishers Weekly, told Salon.”


“The expansion is expected to continue for years to come.”


“Some audiobooks — especially the classics — are read by famous actors: Nicole Kidman narrates Virginia Woolf’s ‘To the Lighthouse’, Samuel L. Jackson reads Chester Himes’ ‘A Rage in Harlem’, and Jeremy Irons has drawn acclaim for his renditions of ‘Lolita’ and Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’.”

The article continues with a fascinating peep into the world of less well-known but equally capable audiobook narrators—“the character actors of the literary world”.

There’s discussion of the various “philosophies” of narration and info like this:

Reports of annual earnings show the median somewhere between the mid-$30,000s and mid-$40,000s, depending on where a narrator is based and the size of their reputation.”

So, have you listened to audiobooks?

Are you a person who does it regularly?

Have any favorite narrators?

Do, please, share in the Comments :-)

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7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

In the last 5 years and 4 months, this blog has offered 1,463 articles (posts) to its readers (many of whom are writers).

7 Interesting Articles for #Readers & #Writers

Image Courtesy of Allyson Correia ~

Since last July, I’ve written a full article on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; while offering re-blogs from a group of wonderful writers on the other days of the week.

Today (a Monday), due to vast and tumultuous internal goings-on, I can’t seem to get into the space where I write a full article

So, since I spend a significant part of every day locating articles on the web that I can report on here (once in awhile I actually write the full post from my own brain and heart; though, I like being a reporter and gathering info from all over for my readers… {if you want to read stuff totally written by me, try some of those freebies in the left side-bar}); and, since I have somewhere over 500 articles bookmarked for possible reportage, I’ll share a number of them with only brief snippets from me ( I’m fairly sure I’ll be back to my usual talking-about-one-other-article by Wednesday :-)

And, the first offering is from The Millions and is suitable for readers and writers ( and writers who read :-) :

The Private Library: What Books Reveal About Their Readers

Next, from The Economist, an article that I feel most writers will definitely read and some readers (those who know a writer) will like:

The Unsurprising Link Between Authorship and Espionage

Perhaps readers will like the next one more than writers? Though, I’d recommend writers do read it… It’s from Canadian NewsWire:

Libraries Call on Multinational Publishers for Fair Ebook Pricing

The next one, from Salon, has an incredibly long title:

Erased from history: Too many women writers — like Constance Fenimore Woolson — are left to languish in moldy archives. What will it take to bring them back?

Now, from the indefatigable blogger at Brain Pickings:

Umberto Eco on the Future of the Book

And, from Medium, a look at patterns—weirdly interesting:

Punctuation in novels

Finally, from The Paris Review:

How Repulsive ~ On the merits of disturbing literature

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Clearing Our Heads About Amazon

First, even though I cover Reading, Writing, and Publishing, Amazon does not carry only books.

Amazon Hachette

Image Courtesy of mantis wong ~

That may be quite obvious but, in the raging battles over the company, there are many folk who, for various reasons, forget the obvious…

If you haven’t been up to speed on the Amazon-Hachette battle, the best I can do to catch you up is have you read my past post, Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

And, to catch you up on other important issues in the book and publishing world, check out these articles by Joe Konrath:

For the Authors Guild & Other Legacy Publishing Pundits

Death and the Self-Pubbed Writer

Konrath’s Advice to Publishers

I thought my post up there, with Almost Against My Will in the title, would be my last about Amazon, for awhile—the hoopla and grizzly name-calling is just too much…


When Joe Konrath weighs-in, reason lights up the alleys of conflict, so, I’m sharing this article:

The great Amazon debate: A leading Amazon critic and a self-publishing rock star try to find common ground

This is a communication between Konrath and Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House magazine and editorial advisor of Tin House Books.

At the beginning of the piece, Spillman refers to Konrath as an author who “…has self-published 24 novels (three of them No. 1 Amazon sellers), hundreds of stories, and has sold over 3 million copies of his books.”

Then comes Rob’s letter to Joe, then Joe’s answer, then Rob’s attempt at rapprochement…

For those of you who don’t follow links and read what they point to, I’ll give you just one excerpt of what Joe says concerning his experience with the “Big” publishers and, then, his experience with Amazon:

“I was a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, being feasted on by lions. Those lions were big publishers. After 20 years, a million written words, and nine rejected novels, I finally landed a book contract. And I worked my ass off and published eight novels with legacy publishers, dozens of short stories with respected magazines, and went above and beyond everything that was required of me, in order to succeed.

“And I got eaten. One-sided contracts, broken promises, lousy money. But it was the only game in town. If I wanted to make a living as a writer, I had no choice.

“Then Amazon invented the Kindle.

“I first self-pubbed in May of 2009. That first month I made $1,500, publishing books that New York rejected.”

Joe went on to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from those “rejected” books…

So, if you’ve been confused about whether Amazon is an evil giant and Hachette is the aggrieved party, read that article…
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Cramming Together What I Can’t Make Stand Alone :-)

As I scan the news and other outlets of content on the Web, I often bookmark articles that seem to have promise as something to feature in a post here.

Well, not all bookmarks inspire me to the same degree but many of them still remain worthy as references some folks may find valuable.

Here are just a few:

Are MFA programs ruining American fiction? ~ Excerpt: “It’s true that MFA programs have produced far more competent mediocrities than shining stars, but that’s also true of every other literary ecosystem. Shining stars are by definition exceptional Yes, MFA grads with nothing to say are now able to say it more skillfully, but authors were pretty good at being boring before university writing programs came along and would surely go on being boring if every MFA program were wiped off the face of the earth. The programs don’t make them dull, even if they also can’t make them interesting.”

Digital fails to curb number of books published in US ~ Snippet: “Traditional US print book output increased 5% in 2010, despite the huge growth in e-books, though there was a continuing fall in the number of fiction titles published.”

8 Things Readers Want From Self-Published Authors ~ “…an excellent to-do list of how self-published authors can be taken seriously by readers.”

Why I Will Never, Ever Hire A “Social Media Expert” ~ Even though this article is written for “business” people, it’s easily translatable for writers as long as the writer considers their promotional effort a business venture

I’ve got some more “can’t-seem-to-make-a-whole-post-out-of-this-article” selections but I’ll save them for another day :-)
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