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Into the Buzzsaw


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About the Author

Kristina Borjesson is an Emmy and Murrow Award-winning investigative reporter, who has worked for CBS and CNN.


Significant stories by investigative reporters do not always reach the air or find their way into print; some of them get caught in "the buzzsaw" that rips through both their reporting and their reputations. Borjesson, an Emmy Award-winning reporter, pulls together 18 essays written by journalists who have either personally experienced this buzzsaw or who have closely observed the media industry. Her own reporting on TWA Flight 800 for CBS made her a target of the FBI, who interfered with her investigative work. She was harassed, her computer and reporter's notebook were stolen, and in the end CBS fired her. The experience changed her perception of the media establishment. Her colleagues here detail accounts of their own buzzsaw encounters covering such stories as Florida's voting in the recent presidential election, Tailwind, a massacre during the Korean War, and CIA involvement with the drug trade. A biographical sketch precedes each piece. This book would have benefited from a more substantial introduction to provide adequate context, but Robert McChesney's closing essay on the history of professional journalism does underscore the fragile state of reporting. Recommended for all academic journalism collections and public libraries where media books circulate well. Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

""This book should be read by everyone who cares about the truth. The stories make for spellbinding reading as we learn about the trials of investigative reporting, but they also are a potent reminder that in times such as these, we need our "muckrakers" more than ever." --South Florida Sun Sentinel "Pertinent and timely. . . . Provides a vital perspective on the First Amendment right to a free press and its endangered status today." --School Library Journal "If members of the general public read this book, they will be appalled... timely and essential reading." --Publishers Weekly "All these pieces are interesting, and a couple are fascinating...some of this material is alarming." --New York Review of Books "Searing accounts of...personal battles with the pressures of censorship. The writing is, as might be expected, riveting. . .this book is recommended." --Quill & Scroll "The first edition of this book appeared during the early months of the Bush administrations' war on terror. Since then, the climate for investigative journalism has only become more repressive. This updated edition...adds about 80 pages of new material...Highly recommended." --Library Journal

In this uneven yet illuminating anthology, editor Borjesson succinctly explains the journalist's predicament: "The buzzsaw is what can rip through you when you try to investigate or expose anything this country's large institutions be they corporate or government want kept under wraps." Indeed, if members of the general public read this book, or even portions of it, they will be appalled. To the uninitiated reader, the accounts of what goes on behind the scenes at major news organizations are shocking. Executives regularly squelch legitimate stories that will lower their ratings, upset their advertisers or miff their investors. Unfortunately, this dirt is unlikely to reach unknowing news audiences, as this volume's likely readership is already familiar with the current state of journalism. Here, Murrow Award-winning reporter Borjesson edits essays by journalists from the Associated Press to CBS News to the New York Times. Each tells of their difficulties with news higher-ups as they tried to publish or air controversial stories relating to everything from toxic dump sites and civilian casualties to police brutality and dangerous hospitals. Some, like BBC reporter Greg Palast's, are merely rants against "corporate" journalism, but others, like New York Observer columnist Philip Weiss's, will serve as meaningful lessons to nascent and veteran writers alike. Most of the sentiments here are especially relevant given the current reports of the war in Afghanistan and questions of their validity, making this timely and essential reading for students and scholars of journalism. (Mar.) Forecast: With Bernard Goldberg's Bias riding high on bestseller lists, Borjesson's offering on news media manipulation is bound to attract serious attention and sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Adult/High School-The buzzsaw, explains Borjesson, is what journalists encounter when they attempt to reveal information that the nation's "large institutions-be they corporate or government-" prefer to keep secret. She presents 18 firsthand accounts by authors and print and television producers and reporters who challenged the media structure, often with devastating results to their careers. While Borjesson's and David Hendrix's narratives on the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster alone are worth the price of the book, other contributors chronicle their experiences with everything from books suppressed by the publishing industry to drug-war "shills" (those hoping to convince an audience that the "game is honest") to Bobby Garwood, who spent 14 years as a POW in Vietnam. Self-censorship is rife, they say, forcing limits on what constitutes news and whose voice is being heard. This desperate state of modern journalism relates directly to the fact that while good investigative reporting demands time, money, and risk, news executives are more concerned with profitability. Suggested reforms include providing "news that matters" and a return to the First Amendment's promise of a "free press." Many of the essays are blunt; all are provocative, substantiated by examples and evidence. The issues each one raises should spark lively debates in journalism and government classes and stimulate the critical thinking of news consumers. A brief biography and photograph of the contributor prefaces each chapter.-Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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