Sunday, June 16, 2013

Evelyn Waugh's 'Scoop': Journalism Is A Duplicitious Business

Alexander Nazaryan at NPR looks at the state of journalism and looks back at Evelyn Waugh's classic satiric novel Scoop. 

In only a few years, a child will ask a parent about newspapers: What was their purpose? What did people do with them, and why? The parent, a little flummoxed, will explain that, long before biosensitive data aggregators simply uploaded information into the neurons of our frontal cortexes, people actually read the news by holding a piece of paper in front of their noses and scanning columns of text with their eyes. There were many such newspapers, to be read in the morning, over breakfast, and in the evening, over scotch. The newspapers competed with each other by sending actual people out into the actual world to report what had taken place, was going to take place — or, even, was alleged to have taken place but didn't. On days when there was little so-called news to report, the newspapers filled their pages with stories about, say, puppies who could recite Macbeth or people who wore jeggings to work. Also, there were crosswords.

Of course, this fictional parent could give his/her fictional child Evelyn Waugh's Scoop — a fictional 1938 tale of British foreign correspondents reporting on a civil war in the fictional East African country of Ishmaelia. Fictional, yes, but to a journalist like myself, most everything about the novel is too real. Waugh was a master at mixing humor and pathos, as evidenced by his two most ambitious novels: A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited. Scoop, on the other hand, is all laughter, of the sort that will make the person next to you on the subway think you have problems. Every time I read it, I miss the glory days of the ink-stained art — but also see why they have come to an end.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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