Reviewed by Dean Tudor
Orin Hargraves, Editor
Oxford University Press
2004, 320 pages, $29.95, ISBN 0-19-517282-5
The dust jacket proudly proclaims, "They still have that new
". Maybe so, but you would have to go to the
new food words to really find the smells. These new food words are
simply foreign words entering the English language (and not made
up, brand "new" words): adobo, broccoli rabe, capellini,
enoki, huevos rancheros, and puttanesca. They are all listed in
this book, as examples of the globalization of food leading from
our consumption of "fusion" (this word is found in the
Hargraves has been a lexicographer for the past 15 years, working
for all of the major dictionary publishers at one time or another.
He is the author of Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions
(Oxford UP), a guide to the differences between US and UK words.
The format in this present book is largely the same as in dictionaries.
For each of 2500 words, there is entry, syllabification, pronunciation,
examples, derivatives, etymology, grammar, phrases, cross-references,
citation to a printed source. Phrases are also included.
In fact, some phrases here are not really new. "Bridge mix"
has been around forever it seems (a candy treat was named after
the phrase), as has "Dixie Cup" and "barf bag"
and "guest book". His rationale for inclusion is that
these phrases had fallen through the cracks at the major dictionary
publishers' offices, and thus they are actually missing from standard
Some words need further explanation, such as the definition for
"acid reflux" (a condition that also happens when one
is sleeping, not just after a meal) and "access charge"
or "access fee" (also employed by ATMs and their bank
networks but not noted as such by Hargraves since he just mentions
As you can see, I just looked at the beginnings of "A",
so there may be other deficiencies in explanations. I checked out
a few food entries as well. The book has a topical index, with broad
subject headings such as "Arts and Music", "Computing",
"Law and Politics", lifestyle, medicine, society, religion,
science, sports, and, of course "Food and Clothing" (a
strange combination, unless you consider the fact that we are always
spilling food on our clothes).
The trick here is where to draw the line, since food is still full
of regionalisms. The cuisine of the day seems to be Mexican and
Italian, with a foray into Asian. Even so, a local (Cajun) dish
such as "dirty rice" is supposed to contain giblets. Hargraves
only notes chicken livers; this is another example of incompleteness.
"Internet" has made it into the big books, but "Intranet"
has apparently not.
Some words are dubious choices, such as "office park dad"
and its abbreviation "OPD". I asked around, and nobody
I know in Toronto has ever heard the phrase. However, they have
now, so the book is effective in promulgating change.
Audience or interest level: libraries, word hounds, journalists
looking for story ideas.
Some interesting facts: "We have included in this dictionary
only the new senses of a word, but in the cases where the new sense
makes little sense without reference to an older one, both the original
and the newer sense are defined here".
What I don't like about this resource: the topical index has no
running heads, so you don't know what subject you are in as you
turn the pages. There are also no cross-references, such as "Music
see Arts and Music". In addition, the short bibliography only
refers to Oxford UP books!
What I do like about this resource: there is a short essay on the
coining of new words.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.
The Red Pages: Toronto Website Directory 2004/2005 West
2004, 541 pages plus, $9.95, ISBN 0-9735655-0-0 paper covers
This is a nice idea, being an A - Z subject listing like the yellow
pages (with advertising) classified sections. However, it is mostly
the yellow pages with an URL, i.e., it has the name, address, and
phone number of a company plus its URL and (very rarely) an E-mail
address. The book could have been a lot thinner, and perhaps more
useful, if it just had the URLs. We all know where the addresses
and phone numbers are: just give us the URLs. For URLs, we already
have Google in the form of Froogle. Therefore, like the yellow pages,
you can let your mouse do the walking for browsing at Froogle. To
plump up the Red Pages, there are separate sections at the front:
an events calendar, maps and bike trails, an Internet guide (omigod,
another one!), reference Web sites, kids and family materials, and
a green living guide. At the rear, there are government listings.
But only the reference section has a list of direct URLs. For all
of the other listings in the front and back sections, you'll be
redirected to the www.redto.com site. This helps to generate some
traffic for RedTO.
Audience or interest level: Internet consumers
Some interesting facts: Increasingly, Canadians research online
before making purchases.
What I don't like about this resource: there is no real indication
of how data was gathered. Also, I don't like the excessive use of
What I do like about this resource: my free, personal copy was
dropped on my doorstep in my "exclusive" neighbourhood.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: useful if free, an 88. Paid-for copies:
The Oxford Companion to Canadian History
Gerald Hallowell, editor
Oxford University Press
2004, 748 pages, $79.95, ISBN 0-19-541559-0
Norah Story created the Oxford Companion to Canadian History
and Literature, published by OUP in 1967 as a "Centennial
Project". It had been updated and supplemented over the years,
until the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature appeared
as a separate entity. The OCCL was last updated in 1997.
This current book, the OCCH, is the first edition for a freestanding
guide to Canadian history. The editor is Gerald Hallowell, former
senior editor of Canadian history at University of Toronto Press,
and now retired from a full-time job. He is the excellent points
man with all the contacts to produce this fine, first job.
Here are the basic details of the main events, institutions, places,
and people in Canada's past. The topics appear to be politics, economy,
education, religion, law, medicine, science, transportation, social
and cultural events (minus the literary: see the OCCL for
that). It has been alphabetically arranged by headword, and the
scope is Aboriginal Canada, French Canada, and the English. Obvious
Canadian entries here include "residential schools". There
are 527 contributors, and 1654 entries, all signed, but with very
few cross-references in the headwords (e.g., "marriage see
courtship and marriage"). Internal cross-references are indicated
by an asterisk. No entries under "X", but "Z"
has two: "zombies" (Canadians conscripted for domestic
service) and "zouaves" (Canadian volunteers who defended
the papacy 1865-1870).
To keep the size of the book manageable, the editor decided to
have no listing of sources, not even a general bibliography.
There are several sections of lists in the end material: national
anthems are listed (although you must go to the headword "national
anthem" to read a history of all the changes), Prime Ministers
and Premiers, Governor-Generals (mysteriously closing off Adrienne
Clarkson at 2004), monarchs, plus 10 sketch maps. The book is invaluable
for people outside of Canada and non-Canadians, but otherwise Internet
access will get you to its main competitor The Canadian Encyclopedia
(www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com) or you can even use the older
CD-ROM, still important for quick data. Or, you can check the Dictionary
of Canadian Biography at www.biographi.ca.
Audience or interest level: schools, libraries, the Internet-deprived.
Some interesting facts: There are only two paragraphs on Canadian
jazz, by Mark Miller, with no asterisks or other cross-references
within the entry.
What I don't like about this resource: there is nothing under "snow",
which could be a place for an interesting discussion (there is a
John Snow and snowmobile in the index).
What I do like about this resource: a first-rate book for tracking
origins, in print form, with an extensive index.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 88.
The Cambridge Companion to Canadian Literature
Eva-Marie Kroller, editor
Cambridge University Press
2004, 291 pages, $30?, ISBN 0-521-89131-0 paper covers
This is one of a huge, long series in the Cambridge Companion to
Literature sets. All of the books specialize in thematic essays
with indexes rather than in the handbook style used by the companions
produced at the "other" British academic publisher. This
book - a first edition -- becomes a readable introduction to the
major writers, genres, and topics in CanLit.
Here are broad surveys of fiction, drama, and poetry,
Aboriginal writings, Francophone writings, autobiography, literary
criticism, writing by women, urban writing, nature writing, travel
writing, and short fiction. There are 12 named contributors, including
the editor (she's at UBC); most of them are academics teaching in
Canada, while others teach in the UK, Australia, and USA. There
are copious endnotes and a concluding bibliography. The index is
mostly to personal names.
Audience or interest level: libraries, scholars, students,
Some interesting facts: "A long-time British
observer of the Booker Prize concluded that the Canadians' success
was not so much a national achievement as it was part and parcel
of the Commonwealth's triumph over British metropolitan culture".
What I don't like about this resource: as with most
of the series, it is only a brief overview.
What I do like about this resource: there is a chronology
and a timeline.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 92.
COMPUTER BOOKS FOR JOURNALISTS
Net Crimes & Misdemeanors
Outmaneuvering the spammers, swindlers, and stalkers who are targeting
Information Today, Inc.
2002, 359 pages, $24.95US, ISBN 0-910965-57-9 paper covers
J.A. Hitchcock is not related to Alfred. Rather, she is an Internet
crime and security expert, specializing in online harassment. She
provides sound bites on cyberstalking to all the major US media
outlets. You can check her out at www.jahitchcock.com.
As first published in 2002 (with older material in the manuscript),
the book was dated; it has gotten worse now (no more CompuServe,
no more free ZoneAlarm, higher version numbers for all the major
software). Nevertheless, it serves as a useful recap, in an historical
context. There are 20 chapters, which deal with themes such as:
protecting one's privacy and personal security in the Internet age,
stalking, harassment, identity theft, spam, online fraud, trolls,
encryption, online shopping and banking, children, viruses and firewalls.
Basically, it is a jungle out there. We all know that, this book
confirms it for the unwary.
There are plenty of screen shots to illustrate what she lists and
says. The book concludes with a glossary, a Web site list, and a
directory of all the URLs mentioned (arranged by chapter).
Audience or interest level: unsuspecting Internet virgins, students,
the paranoid seeking confirmation.
Some interesting facts: "People are inherently trusting, and
for some reason it seems this is even more true online. A person
one would never trust to do business with offline is often assumed
to be honest and competent simply because he or she is online".
What I don't like about this resource: too many events have moved
on in the 4 - 5 years since the book began its manuscript life.
What I do like about this resource: Chapter 20 has a collection
of dos and don'ts for "the basics of staying safe online".
There is also an extensive index with plenty of cross-references.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: given its age, about 78.
Multimedia: from Wagner to virtual reality
Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, editors
W.W.Norton & Co.
2001, expanded in 2002. 458 pages, $28.99, ISBN 0-393-32375-7 paper
Packer is a media critic and academic. Jordan has worked in new
media as an editor and administrator. This book was originally published
in 2001, with a slight expansion in 2002 as a more affordable paperback,
geared to the student market. It is a collection of articles, ranging
from the vision of Vannevar Bush (the seminal "As We May Think"),
to William Burroughs ("The Future of the Novel"), Norbert
Wiener (cybernetics), Tim Berners-Lee ("Information Management"),
to the performance techniques of John Cage, to Alan Kay's notebook-sized
computer, to Allan Karpov's 1966 "Untitled Guidelines for Happenings"
(he coined the term), William Gibson, J.C.R. Licklider's man-computer
symbiosis. These major writings of the pioneers of multimedia give
it all a sense of history and of context, of being a prime document.
Thirty-seven articles (more than the hardback edition) are organized
on themes of multimedia integration, interactivity, hypermedia,
immersion, and narrativity. Each essay is introduced by the editors
and put into context. The 25-page overall introduction (plus the
contextual intros before the essays) provide a really good summary
of the whole field. Endnotes comprise references. There is a Web
site at www.artmuseum.net/w2vr with links to texts, photos, videos,
timelines, profiles on people mentioned in the book, and visual
Audience or interest level: students, artists, critics and teachers.
Some interesting facts: given the eclectic nature of this book,
we're indeed lucky it was published with consecutive pagination.
What I don't like about this resource: the importance of Wagner
needed more punching up, but that's just a minor quibble.
What I do like about this resource: there is actually an index,
rarely seen in anthologies. This one is almost 30 pages long.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 95.
User Error: Resisting Computer Culture
Between the Lines
2003, 204 pages, $24.95, ISBN 1-896357-79-2 paper covers
Ellen Rose holds the McCain/Aliant-Telecom Chair in Education and
Multimedia at the University of New Brunswick. Her premise is that
as users, we willingly grant authority to the creators of software,
support materials, and the infrastructure. Her examples are as up
to date as the beginning of 2003, and now this review itself will
be two years later. In addition, by the time you, the reader, buy
or rent the book, it may be as much as three years. Books will always
be late, and out of date. That goes with the territory.
To use Rose's words, we willingly grant authority to the book publishers
to create out of date information. Her topics include computer anxiety,
artificial intelligence (but no mention of Eliza or Julia programs),
intelligent agents, hackers, computer knowledge, user documentation
(always good for a joke), obsolescence, software development, upgrades,
and user interfaces. I'm not really sure what her point is, since
users in other areas don't need to know what goes on under the hood.
We don't know about internal combustion engines or VCRs either.
Have you ever tried to read a car manual? Her material makes for
a couple of good magazine articles, which can also be updated more
Audience or interest level: the curious, Luddites, technophobes
Some interesting facts: "As users we tend to be dismissed
by software producers as error-prone and mindless, but as consumers
of high-technology we seem to be highly sought after and cherished."
What I don't like about this resource: her "conclusion"
chapter is all about the future: pure speculation, and inconclusive
What I do like about this resource: there is a large bibliography
with endnotes, although the index is mainly to personal names.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 85.
Web Journalism: practice and promise of a new medium
James Glen Stovall
Pearson Allyn and Bacon
2004, 239 pages, $59.95, ISBN 0-205-35398-3 paper covers
Stovall is the faculty advisor for Dateline Alabama, the news Web
site at the journalism school of the University of Alabama's College
of Communication and Information Sciences (is this another merger
of j-schools with library schools?). It is a journalism textbook,
with "discussion and activities" at the end of each chapter.
Each chapter also has chapter summaries at the top and bibliographies
and notable Web sites at the end.
Stovall takes great pains to show that Web news is not just a newspaper
on a screen. He concentrates on what sets the Web apart from other
journalism activities, such as its capacity (virtually unlimited),
immediacy, flexibility, permanency, and interactivity. And all of
these using basic journalistic principles of seeking the news and
presenting it in a balanced and fair manner. His good examples include
visits inside MSNBC, a 24-hour web news organization. Convergence
is still an issue, such as in Tampa Bay, and it is working fine
if it is applied right.
But Stovall has little on archiving (there is nothing on doing
it, nor on indexing, etc.), a bit on fees or subscription, little
on freelancer pay rates and ownership, and absolutely nothing on
RSS or XML, the "next big thing" or "killer app".
It makes wonder if the copyright notice here is one of those "advanced
dating" dates, and the book was physically published in early
On the positive side, Stovall has sidebars for tips and advice,
generally quite good, and plenty of screen shots. Copious bibliographies
and Web site listings enhance the book, as does the index. But in
the end, this is an American book with American examples and themes,
and no Canadian relevance, beyond the global mechanics of Web site
construction and usage.
Audience or interest level: students, refresher courses, journalism
Some interesting facts: "The world wide web is a news medium
in the sense that all web sites need to post new information to
keep visitors coming back"/
What I don't like about this resource: he calls the World Wide
Web "a browser"
isn't that what IE or Netscape is?
What I do like about this resource: good examples given of how
news media sites try to involve their readers.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: as a college level text, it is a pricey
book in Canada, give it an 82.
Choosing and Using a News Alert Service
Information Today and Find/SVP
2004, 117 pages, ISBN 1-57387-224-5 paper covers
Berkman is not identified in this book, but he appears to be the
same Robert Berkman who has written information retrieval and reference
books for the past twenty-five years or so. The date of publication
here is actually August 2004, so it is really current. Overall,
there are 81 pages of text; the balance is comparative tables. News
alerts are E-mail messages that keep you current on any themes you
tell such a service to do for you. You'll want to keep ahead of
the competition, so time is of the essence. His definition: news
alerts services scan and index text for subscriber's keywords, and
automatically alert subscribers to those news items. The idea is
not new: twenty years ago there used to be FAX alert services (in
fact, Sources was poised to get involved at one point).
Now, text comes from all over the Web: trade journals, online news,
blogs, audio-visual clips, Usenet, Web forums, Listservs, both domestic
and international, and in different languages - sometimes with machine-generated
translations. Usually, several thousand different news sites and
sources are scanned.
For businesses, you can track news on specific companies, products,
and general industry news.
The news alerts filter the vast amount of news on the web today,
producing "niche news". The next step is wireless alerts
for all phones: Yahoo! Mobile, AP, ABC News are already there
The best news alerts are obviously the ones that charge a fee,
or are part of a fee-based online subscription service. They can
afford the resources for powerful keyword search options. So you
get what you pay for. In general, RSS readers, Web page monitors,
E-mail newsletters, and TOC (tables of contents) alert services
are free. To get prime value, in terms of quantity, quality or depth,
you must pay. It costs the news alert service money to implement
its product, such as using proximity searching, and to provide customer
support. Free services, which use advertising, can only pay a few
bills. Berkman reviews and compares the feature/price quality ratios
of twenty news alert services, commenting on how well they performed.
There are many tables and plenty of screen shots, mostly dated from
2003. There is no index, but there are lists of key business news
Audience or interest level: news junkies, business people who require
up to the minute ticker data.
Some interesting facts: Most of us will only want to know his findings:
his top picks are Google News Alerts (free), NetContent/Intellisearch
(cheap), Dialog NewsEdge (premium) and Lexis/Nexis (also premium).
What I don't like about this resource: no ID for Berkman, Also,
the Web is in a state of flux. A few news alerts had closed shop
since the book began to be written.
What I do like about this resource: he notes that my old research
buddies Dialog and Nexis are still around and have moved into the
news alert business, still charging fees. Nothing has been able
to beat them since they began operating over a quarter of a century
ago. Berkman notes some material on "specialized" news
alert services that scan items such as new patent filings, recent
mergers, and company filings. Most can be free, especially for sending
you the announcement. If you want details, you'll need to pay a
Quality-to-Price Ratio: if this is the usual corporate report,
as a tax-deductible expense, give it an 85.
Journalism: Truth or Dare
Oxford University Press
2003, 294 pages, $19.95US, ISBN 0-19-280274-7
Hargreaves is a serious-looking (from his jacket photo) journalism
professor at Cardiff UK; he has held senior spots in newspapers,
magazines, television and radio. This book is all about gatekeeping
in journalism, yet he doesn't even mention the word (nor "Mr.
Gates"). How strange
His material covers accountability, ethics, regulation, trust,
commercialization, advertising, corporate ownerships, branding,
PR, dumbing down, celebrities, readership and audience, conscience,
free expression and censorship, electronic publishing, and cultural
identity. He believes that journalism has now moved from being the
"first draft of history" to "cultural dumbing down".
A good example of this (not used in the book) is Paris Hilton, who
the media was all over: she is famous for just being famous.
Although he uses examples from everywhere, the book is British-based.
The first forty pages are devoted to history, there are eclectic
illustrations, which seem to have no real purpose, and while there
are endnotes, there is no bibliography. The section on films about
journalism ignores "Absence of Malice" (1981) and "The
Paper" (1994). Convergence is not discussed; maybe it didn't
hit the UK?
Audience or interest level: communication students.
Some interesting facts: Star journalists earn as much as celebrities.
What I don't like about this resource: this is a short book with
tons of leading. There are only 250 words on a page, much like a
What I do like about this resource: touches all the bases, much
to think about without the answers being given, a swift account.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 74.
The No-Nonsense Guide to Global Media
New Internationalist Publications/Between the Lines
2004, 144 pages, $14.95, ISBN 1-896357-81-4 paper covers
Steven is the well-known author of "Brink of Reality"
and "Jump Cut". This current book is one of a series on
issues, such as Fair Trade, the Arms Trade, HIV/AIDS, which have
come out the New Internationalist magazine topical issues.
The media here is, of course, more than just news: there's film,
TV, radio, recording, publishing, and the Internet. There has been
more globalization lately because of multi-national ownership, satellite
TV and the Internet. Steven sits firmly in the camp that says the
media shape the way we lead our lives. Thus, the book becomes a
polemic, with lots of examples and anecdotes from the Toronto area
(Steven is based here). He has quotes, sidebars (in smaller typeface),
tables and charts. Much of our media in the First and Second World
impacts on the Third World, and that is a continuing concern. He
cites media criticism found in magazines (Adbusters, Jump Cut),
BBC radio shows, and papers such as The Guardian and Le Monde,
as well as Web operations. His footnoted sources show plenty of
online sources where everyone is a media critic. But his bibliography
shows only four books.
Audience or interest level: the converted, giving them ammunition
for talking to others.
Some interesting facts: "We cannot underestimate the power
and brute force behind the barons of global media, the Rupert Murdochs
and Silvio Berlusconis of the world who wield political and economic
power as well as the ability to shape dreams through our entertainment".
What I don't like about this resource: a footnote reads "Michael
Moore, if you are out there send us your email address". Huh?
Is he that hard to find, with his own Web site at www.michaelmoore.com???
What I do like about this resource: cogent and concise, even scary.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 97.
Weapons of Mass Persuasion
Marketing the War against Iraq
University of Toronto Press
2004, 226 pages, $45
ISBN 0-8020-8995-X; $19.95
ISBN 0-8020-8651-9 paper covers
This is a tougher book to review, since I could barely bring myself
to read it. We all know by now, the WMD did not exist, that Saddam
Hussein even turned down bin Laden (how bad do you have to be in
order to be turned down by Saddam??). There are no links to bin
Laden, no WMDs. Yet Iran had those links and WMDs. The US invaded
the wrong country: they were off by only one letter!!
Seriously, there was much wrong with the war with Iraq even before
the obvious truth came out and was acknowledged by the American
government. Rutherford, an academic and media critic at the University
of Toronto, tries to show how the marketing campaign for the war
against Iraq was constructed and carried out with the aid of a compliant
Real time, such as "embedding" was treated as pop culture.
Advertising propaganda made war become a branded conflict. It soon
became the war of good versus evil. Selling the war as a good thing
in the USA was hard to do, since the Iraqi resistance had created
a quicksand swamp as in Vietnam. The New York Times said
that Americans may have been "watching Iraq" on TV but
they were "seeing Vietnam". The major problem was actually
one of sensory overload: the overwhelmed viewer caught in a real-time
war with multiple sources of data. It was hard to figure out what
was going on since everything was happening so fast. Print - papers
and magazines - were left behind, in the dust so to speak. Rutherford
is a terrific writer, never pedantic and always engaging. He cites
first-rate sources such as interviews, books, articles and Web sites,
as well as analyses of speeches, editorial cartoons, media commentaries,
sound bites, polling data.
Audience or interest level: academics, students, George W. Bush.
Some interesting facts: "The American news media were particularly
event-driven, focusing much more on concrete actions than on ideas".
What I don't like about this resource: depressing but unavoidable.
What I do like about this resource: richly illustrated with 25
editorial cartoons, all properly sourced.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 93.
Continentalizing Canadian Telecommunications: The Politics of
McGill-Queen's University Press
2003, 256 pages, $75, ISBN 0-7735-2425-8
($27.95 paper covers, different ISBN, review copy was hardback)
Rideout is an associate professor of sociology at the University
of New Brunswick. Her book is based on her doctoral dissertation
for the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University
in Ottawa, plus some government contract research. Papers based
on portions of this material have been presented at meetings of
various learned societies. The time slice is 1985-1996, so by now
it is mostly all history.
She examines the political resistance to liberal transformation
of Canadian telecommunications policy, involving the players of
the feds vs. big business. She argues that the public interest has
not been well served, despite cohesion with labour, consumers and
public-interest groups. She looks at Free Trade, long-distance and
local competition, and a subsidy program for low-income earners.
Overall, she concludes, we appear to be moving more towards the
US (=continentalism) with a North American reach. Both the issues
behind privatization policies and telecommunications policies are
looked at through a glass of drifting continentalism
are endnotes, and extensive bibliography, and an index.
Audience or interest level: academics, historians, communications
Some interesting facts: "The development of a neo-liberal,
continental telecommunications model has benefited large corporate
users, the new competitors, and the established dominant providers".
What I don't like about this resource: all the sources come from
the slice, without any updating: there are appendices detailing
names and dates.
What I do like about this resource: illustrates the strong role
that the government had been playing.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 83.
Framing the West: Race, Gender, and the Photographic Frontier
in the Pacific Northwest
Carol J. Williams
Oxford University Press
2003, 216 pages, $29.95, ISBN 0-19-514652-2 paper covers
Williams is a professor of women's studies and American history
at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. In this book (a great
title, riffing off Farming the West), she examines a wide
range of photographic forms (landscapes, portraits, action shots),
and concludes that surveyors made images for the British government
to map and claim ownership of the regions.
The photos also depicted Native peoples as non-threatening, and
thus they (the photos) could be used in posters to encourage emigration
from the UK, promoting the Canadian west as a safe haven. These
are the images of the good, compliant Indian in western garb. Williams
goes on to identify the camera as the influential source of imperialist
ideology, the Fox News Network of the day (of course, imperialism
continued with news film and documentaries. There are about 50 photos
from various western archives, from just around the turn of the
19th century. Williams also gives us about 23 pages of extensive
Audience or interest level: academics, historians, photographers
(especially journalism photographers), libraries.
Some interesting facts: "The book moves beyond the conventional
biographical approaches to photographers' work and the usual assumptions
about the objectivity of historical photographs to develop an argument
about how photographs can function as ideological documents"
What I don't like about this resource: a great commentary, but
I feel it needs more photographs as examples.
What I do like about this resource: a great slice of history, makes
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 92.
Dialogues on Cultural Studies: Interviews with Contemporary Critics
Shaobo Xie and Fengzhen Wang, editors
University of Calgary Press
2003, 280 pages, $34.95, ISBN 1-55238-074-2 paper covers
Xie is a professor of English at the University of Calgary, while
Wang is a research fellow in Beijing (Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences). This book is a series of interviews with twelve academics,
all American or working in the US (Pamela McCallum is at the University
of Calgary). Thirty-three questions were asked (but not necessarily
answered) of each participant, dealing with cultural studies, modernity,
postmodernism, referentiality, ideology and history, post-colonialism,
neo-orientalism, revolution and tragedy, intellectuals and universities
(hah!), gender, Marxism, new communications technology - do I go
on? Extremely difficult to read, unless you know something about
the field. There is an extensive bibliography, but it seems to list
only older works. It would be interesting to run this book through
any fog indexes or other readability indicators, such as Flesch
reading ease or Flesch-Kincaid grade levels. All in all, it appears
to be mainly a polemic. Certainly, it is not a dialogue, since there
seem to be no "supplementary" questions.
Audience or interest level: academics, Marxists.
Some interesting facts: "Difference or differentiation as
the spirit and mood of the postmodern age has been celebrated on
a global scale for three decades, whereas at the same time globalized
capitalism is globally erasing difference, imposing sameness and
standardization on consciousness, feeling, imagination, motivation,
desire, and taste through cultural, social, and economic means."
What I don't like about this resource: too arcane for journalists,
and even journalism educators. Certainly the dialogues are not interviews
that journalists would do.
What I do like about this resource: a boldface index does manage
to tie it all together. Many anthologies or collections are not
Quality-to-Price Ratio: what can I say? If you need it, read
The Elephants of Style
A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary
2004, 238 pages, $21.95
ISBN 0-07-142268-4 paper covers
Bill Walsh is the copy chief for national news at the Washington
Post, and the creator of www.theslot.com, a popular Web site
for copyeditors. This book, his second on this theme, is opinionated
commentary on American English in the computer age. The first was
Lapsing Into A Comma. In that earlier book, he had a chapter
"Curmudgeon's Stylebook", an alphabetical guide to interesting
but often obscure questions of usage and miscellaneous facts. He
continues with that stylebook in his second book. Topics here include
his pseudo-Luddite takes on spelling, capitalization, abbreviations,
parts of speech, possessives and plurals, numbers, and punctuation.
This is the real nitty-gritty stuff, not often taught in journalism
schools. There are separate sections that deal with plagiarism and
fabrication. He concludes with a bibliography of style and usage
books, plus an index.
Audience or interest level: copy editors.
Some interesting facts: "Some habits of spoken English do
not translate well to the written word. The superfluous "hand"
in phrases like "upper left-hand corner" is one of them.
People who need to refer to their hands to tell right from left
don't tend to read much".
What I don't like about this resource: material does tend to be
scattered and a little too cutesy.
What I do like about this resource: more practical than the publisher
admits. A really good read, enjoyable too.
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 94.
Tell it Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction
Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola
2005, 195 pages, $21.95, ISBN 0-07-144494-7 paper covers
Both Miller and Paola are award-winning essay writers and book
authors, teaching at Western Washington University. The book is
a guide to writing memoirs and essays, and the authors encourage
the reader-writer to find the hook, the theme, the "slant"
mentioned in the title.
They explain the processes (writing basics, essay writing, memoirs)
for creative non-fiction. Topics covered include family subjects,
historical writing, lyric essay, the arts, personal essays, and
spiritual autobiography. Elegance is the keyword here, but tread
The authors delve into fact vs. fiction, thrusting and clarifying:
memory and imagination, emotional truth and factual truth, whole
truth and partial truth. Isn't this what journalists are supposed
to avoid? False memories and fabrication are anathema to the daily
reporters. And it is, of course, ironic that for a book dealing
with creative non-fiction, the copyright notice here is 2005, not
2004 when the book was actually published. Many textbooks are appearing
now with advanced dating, in hopes of keeping the books fresher
with a current date. Each chapter concludes with a series of exercises
and prompts for writing on your own; these are quite good. There
is a chapter on writing groups and how to form one, plenty of writing
examples, and an index.
Audience or interest level: budding writers, writing groups. But
not journalists (we don't want to give them any ideas)
Some interesting facts: "We believe that every writer must
negotiate the boundary between fact and fiction for him- or herself.
What constitutes fabrication for one writer will seem like natural
technique to another". Really???
What I don't like about this resource: lots of stuff and advice
for writers, but nothing about readers or audiences. Who actually
reads the personal memoirs, the essays, the creative non-fiction?
These books do not sell very well.
What I do like about this resource: a really useful, annotated
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.
Imagined Nations: Reflections on Media in Canadian fiction
McGill-Queen's University Press
2003, 278 pages, ISBN 0-7735-2516-5
Williams is an English professor at the University of Manitoba.
He presents a basic look at the effects different forms of media
have had on Canadian novels and film adaptations and cyberspace,
and how these affect the sense of time and space and national identities.
He examines writings and film treatments of such works as No
Great Mischief, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Prochain Episode,
The Butterfly Plague, The Englishman's Boy, The English Patient,
and Necromancer. Some of these chapters were conference papers
previously published in scholarly journals. There is an extensive
bibliography and index, and overall, I can safely say that he has
strong roots in Innis and McLuhan.
Audience or interest level: academics, libraries.
Some interesting facts: "During a decade marked by Canada's
Free Trade Agreement with the United States, we could expect the
national idea to be contested in novels as well as in the culture
What I don't like about this resource: the reader really needs
an interest in communications theory.
What I do like about this resource: applications to journalism
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 84.
Strategic Copy Editing
The Guilford Press
2004, 280 pages, $35US, ISBN 1-57230-926-1 paper covers
Russial teaches editing at the University of Oregon's School of
Journalism. He had spent twelve years at the Philadelphia Inquirer
newspaper as Sunday copy chief. This is a basic book on how to edit
for grammar and punctuation, usage and style, fairness and focus,
and headlines. He also has sections on how to negotiate with reporters,
other editors, and layout designers. Editors are intermediaries.
Strewn throughout the book are editing strategies, practical tips,
examples. There is a chapter on accuracy (fact checking) and inaccuracy,
with consequences explained. As I always said, "Look it up
- you'll remember it longer. But screw it up - you'll remember it
forever." I know that many journalism students are turned off
by the detailed work demanded of copyediting. I taught courses in
fact checking, and it was no breeze. Most students gave me the excuse
that they were going into broadcasting, or sports writing, or advertising
or PR. Hmmmmm
Russial also ahs material on the use of computers
and software, with a good section on spellcheckers. This book can
be a bit overwhelming to read, so it would be safer to just chunk
it. There are endnotes but no bibliography.
Audience or interest level: journalism schools, self-learners,
people who need some brushing up.
Some interesting facts: "Reviewing the mistakes I missed in
proofreading [this book] confirmed my suspicion that everyone needs
a copy editor, especially a copy editor".
What I don't like about this resource: too US based for me, with
What I do like about this resource: pragmatic
Quality-to-Price Ratio: 84.
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