Follow-up on Books, New Journalism, Plus Something Related to Guns

January 22nd, 2013 · No Comments · journalism

By Denise Tessier

The Sunday Journal Books page hasn’t had its last chapter after all (“The Book Review’s Last Chapter,” Dec. 12).  The Books page continued to run Jan. 13 and Jan. 20, after the departure of long-time editor David Steinberg, and in the spot once reserved for Steinberg’s local books column a similar feature continues to list New Mexico book signings.

That’s the good news – and the rest of the change-in-the-Books news isn’t all bad. With Journal Arts Editor Rene Kimball at the helm, the selection of both books and the syndicated reviewers who read them has been high in quality.

This reader was pulled into the first post-Steinberg page upon seeing Newsday writer Marion Winik’s name on a review, and the excellent description by Winik, an author herself, of “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie,” by Ayana Mathis, was almost as good as reading the book. Granted, none of the reviews either day covered locally produced books, and with some research, readers can probably find these reviews elsewhere.

But at least the Journal has chosen to preserve the Books page, providing a place for local reviews as they are written. And Steinberg himself, who is still writing for the arts pages, has said he will be contributing reviews of local authors from time to time.

New journalism: In the interview conducted for the post “New Year, New Sites in New Mexico Journalism” (Jan. 4)”, Weekly Alibi publisher Carl Petersen told ABQJournalWatch the Alibi’s best year economically was 2007 – and that since that year the publication has been trying to ride the economy with business as usual, up until its recent cuts in staff and newsprint page numbers.

It’s interesting to see that its ad-based fortunes seem tied to those of Albuquerque. For Petersen’s comment jibes with figures put out by the Brookings Institution in its Global Metro Monitor, which show that Albuquerque’s economy peaked in 2007. These stats came to my attention in a column by Wally Gordon in The (Edgewood) Independent.

And in a development since that Jan. 4 post, the online New Mexico Compass, a news site put together by former Alibi editors and writers, has partnered with the Local IQ to run print versions of the teams’ legislative coverage and other topics.

On a different topic: Amid the multitude of gun stories the Journal has run in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting ( including not one, but two editorials actually saying it’s time to look into better controls, plus an editorial criticizing the NRA’s unhelpful response), the Journal’s Op-Ed page carried an aptly named column worthy of note.

A Small Tribute to Gunman’s Mother,” which originally ran in the Baltimore Sun, reflected on both the blame the world directed at the killer’s mother and the helplessness and hope she must have felt in raising her troubled son. Nancy Lanza isn’t around to tell her story, but another mother with a troubled child is – and her stunning account (republished at Huffington Post from The Blue Review) is one that keeps coming to mind long after it’s been read.

If “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” doesn’t convince legislators and readers that mental health treatment must be part of the mass shootings solution, nothing will.

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