Deadline in Athens
Why in God's name, I wondered, would anyone want to write about the shriveling and desperate world of newspapers? Here in the U.S., at least, the industry is under assault from the Internet, semi-literacy, greed, complacency, self-importance, stupidity and mismanagement, with predictable results: Big papers shed staff and salaries and bring the law of supply and demand into ruthless play when they do hire. Content is dumbed down past the vanishing point and, possibly most tiresome of all, journalistic pundits hold forth on the state of the business, with the predictable rejoinders from anti-pundits eager to make a name for themselves with predictions that go against the grain.
I suppose someone could write an exciting story about contemporary American newspapers, difficult though it may be to find drama in a world where the word content is taken seriously. I mean, perhaps my memory fails me, but I don't recall the word cropping up in Jonathan Latimer's The Lady in the Morgue or in The Harder They Fall or in any of the versions of The Front Page. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, the situation is less dire elsewhere. Maybe newspapers still matter across the seas.
If they do, though, I probably won't find out from Deadline in Athens (God, the title sounds traditional, like the old Humphrey Bogart movie Deadline U.S.A.) or from another novel on my list, Batya Gur's Murder in Jerusalem. It transpires that each has a considerable segment set in the world of news -- TV news. God, I hate television "journalists." They're ambitious, they dress better than I do, they speak and write considerably worse, and they steal my terminology. Headline News, my arse! No television newscast ever had a "headline." You superficial sons of bitches have stolen my relevance; the least you could do is leave me my language.
Reviews of the books at 11.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007