Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction awarded to John Grisham
About the Program
John Grisham accepts the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. After accepting the award the author speaks about being a lawyer and the role that law plays in contemporary fiction with a panel that includes, novelists David Baldacci, Linda Fairstein, and Thane Rosenbaum, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, lawyer Robert Grey, Jr, and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The event takes place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
About the Authors
John Grisham is the author of over twenty novels and the nonfiction title, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town. He formerly practiced law in Mississippi for ten years and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990. For more information, visit jgrisham.com. (I am now reading The Litigators and The Confession Jim)If you are interested in the Renaissance, try reading the popular The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by David Greenblat
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This week on Q&A, Jill Abramson discusses her new position as executive editor of The New York Times, as well as her new book, “The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout.” The book is a personal narrative describing her serious injuries after being hit by a truck while walking in Times Square, and her recovery with a new puppy named “Scout.”
Abramson discusses her career in journalism, her motivation for writing, and her rise to her current position of executive editor at The Times. She speaks about the explosion of choices readers now face for obtaining news and information. She firmly asserts that The New York Times is more irreplaceable than ever because of its authority and the quality of the paper’s journalism. She relates the work done behind the scenes of some of the major stories covered by the paper, including the scandal surrounding former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. In addition, Abramson shares her vision of changes she wishes to make at the paper, including an overall shortening of story length, where possible.
Jill Abramson is the first woman to serve as executive editor at The New York Times in the paper’s 160 year history. She received her B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard in 1976. She was a senior staff reporter for The American Lawyer and then became editor in chief of Legal Times. She joined the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal in 1988 and eventually became the deputy bureau chief. She joined The New York Times as Washington bureau chief, and in 2003 became the paper’s managing editor. She was appointed executive editor in September, 2011. MORE »
Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, Dana Priest, William Arkin/Little, Brown & Co ... A decade of terrorism warnings about possible attacks in the United States had convinced (Wheel-chaired 76 year old) Whiteman that she had much to fear. Walking through a body scanner without her wheelchair was a small price to pay for safety. Never mind that no terrorist had ever fit her profile or been foiled walking through a security scanner. Never mind that the Department of Homeland Security, which was responsible for setting airport security policy, was ridiculed by people at every other intelligence agency because it hadn’t learned to hone its focus and still saw threats everywhere.
The scene of Joy Whiteman holding herself up with the walls of the body scanner while a crew of security guards, paid by taxpayers, made sure she didn’t fall, seemed a perfect metaphor for what has transpired in the United States over the past ten years. Having been given a steady diet of vague but terrifying information from national security officials about the possibility of dirty bombs, chemical weapons, biotoxins, exploding airliners, and suicide bombers, a nation of men and women like the Whitemans have shelled out hundreds of billions dollars to turn the machine of government over to defeating terrorism without ever really questioning what they were getting for their money. And even if they did want an answer to that question, they would not be given one, both because those same officials have decided it would gravely harm national security to share such classified information— and because the officials themselves don’t actually know. ... http://www.alternet.org/story/152855/top_secret_america%3A_the_rise_of_the_new_american_security_state?akid=7790.244053.mLgWZt&rd=1&t=12
A look inside John Kasich's Ohio, where workers make minimum wage, live under threat of layoff, and many spend every day on the verge of desperation.READ MOREMac McClelland / Mother Jones
... If the sign at the edge of town is to be believed, Gahanna is one of the Top 100 Places to Live. The Columbus suburb is a lot like the Cleveland suburb I grew up in. Green. Sprawly. Solidly middle-class, chock-full of shopping centers. And Erin and Anthony's house is a lot like a lot of houses around it, a modest split-level with a big front yard and a deck in the back. In the wedding pictures on the walls, Erin's got short blond hair. Currently, her locks are chin length and closer in color to the chocolate corduroy couch on which we sit while, on the floor before us, Jocelyn makes herself the center of a four-foot radius of toys. Erin's beaming in the photos, and that's pretty much what she usually looks like, pretty teeth bared, shiny cheeks. She still feels warm and open even as her face creases with anxiety and she says, "When we bought our house, we basically wiped out our savings." The only reason there's any money left in the bank at all is because of the rebate from President Obama's first-time homebuyer's credit program. Because the house, like most people's houses, isn't paid for, and neither is Anthony's car, like many people's cars, the prospect that Anthony might have only three more paychecks coming is making Erin "not fine," though she's "trying to be fine." When we were in college, we all had these fabulous plans. Or at least plans to be supersecure once we found careers. To make a living and then…live. Erin blames the governor for her doubts now. She calls him some unsavory names.
A lot of people are doing that. A couple of weeks ago, a poll showed the approval ratings of John Kasich, the newly elected Republican governor, at 33 percent. Once upon a time Kasich was a United States congressman, before he left in 2001 to become a managing director at Lehman Brothers, where he worked until it imploded and destroyed a bunch of lives in 2008. On the side, he hosted his own show on Fox News, as well as frequently guest-hosting The O'Reilly Factor and appearing on the Sean Hannity vehicles. He took office in January, and his approval ratings have been abysmal since March, something to do, no doubt, with the release of his proposed budget for fiscal years 2012-13. ... http://www.alternet.org/story/152853/ohio%3A_ground_zero_for_conservatives%27_soul_crushing_agenda?akid=7790.244053.mLgWZt&rd=1&t=4TV's Wasteland of News by David Sirota,
So when I was asked to appear on MSNBC last Saturday morning, my initial thought was, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But then I realized it was a new show hosted by Chris Hayes, a journalist whose work I’ve long admired. So I said yes. And crack-of-dawn fatigue aside, I’m glad I did, because to my surprise, I ended up getting the chance to participate in one of the best television programs on the air.
“Up With Chris Hayes,” which broadcasts Saturday and Sunday mornings, purposely rejects the manufactured red-versus-blue mallet that bludgeons every issue into partisan terms. Instead, the program’s host is creating a space for more expansive discussions with voices typically deemed too unconventional, provocative or dangerous to be allowed anywhere near a television set.
The panel I appeared on exemplified Hayes’ effort. Out of five in-studio guests appearing to discuss the death of Moammar Gadhafi, the Iraq war and the Arab Spring, one was Iraqi author Zainab Salbi, one was Libyan author Hisham Matar and one was Palestinian-American comedian Dean Obeidallah. (Arabs being asked for their opinion on events in the Arab world — what a concept!) Amazingly (and refreshingly), in a cable world dominated by crotchety Caucasians, NBC News’ foreign correspondent Richard Engel and I were the only white dudes on the panel.
Even more incredible was the show’s ideological openness. Just one example: We had a discussion about the notion of America as an empire — a concept pervasive throughout the globe that Engel nonetheless couldn’t believe was being discussed on American television. He was right to be surprised. Though it should be standard, a cable program that both explores hugely taboo questions and includes a diverse set of voices is something you rarely see in this country.
For American news consumers, Hayes’ show is a terrific, better-late-than-never development. But the fact that “Up” is groundbreaking is also something of a sad commentary on the larger media.
For the most part, TV remains exactly as Hunter S. Thompson once described it: a “cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free …” In that hallway’s current cable form, “national news” is a euphemism for New York- and D.C.-focused content engineered primarily by a closed ecosystem of East Coast elites who believe the only things that matter are Manhattan gossip and Beltway games. This is why you almost always see the same vapid pundits and the same homogenized topics on TV — because this clique is hostile to diverse viewpoints and uses its privilege to make sure media debates represent only the elites’ myopic perspective.
By contrast, Hayes’ show joins a variety of programs, from Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” to Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to Thom Hartmann’s “The Big Picture,” in rejecting this suffocating model. If it succeeds, it will play a huge role in creating a new model that will serve journalism and the citizenry far better than today’s vast television wasteland.