ERIC Number: ED284220
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug-4
Reference Count: 0
The Journalistic Autobiography: How Reporters View Themselves and Order Their Experience.
The ways contemporary American journalists view themselves and order their experiences in their autobiographies stem from the reporter-as-celebrity phenomenon. As a result of this phenomenon, many journalists are writing their autobiographies when they are fairly young, and creating larger-than-life personas of themselves, which tends to emphasize the entertainment aspect of their story, and obscure any historical significance. The reporters often rely on "war stories" and nostalgia, and perpetuate such myths as reporter-as-Superman, the deification of objectivity, news instinct, and reporter-as-skeptic. Most, but not all, reporters' autobiographies are arranged chronologically, such as Dan Rather's, Harry Reasoner's and Jessica Savitch's, and contain universal elements such as"paying your dues" and discovering a mentor. Such a format seems to preclude the type of reflexivity found in Studs Terkel's and Harrison Salisbury's autobiographies. Terkel presents his experiences in the order in which they were recalled, and Salisbury infuses his narrative with a tone of self-doubt. Most journalistic memoirs fail particularly in their tendency to be too nostalgic, and hence come across as self-fulfilling acts designed to perpetuate image and myth, lacking any connection between the journalist and genuine human experience. (JC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (70th, San Antonio, TX, August 1-4, 1987).