Novelists as Journalists

In the first textbook reading, one particular section called out to me. On pages 32-34 of “The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know,” the authors discuss how Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, and other novelists were also journalists. This caught my eye because I like Mark Twain and I enjoy any opportunity to learn more about him. Mark Twain was really funny, and his quotes on Congress still ring true (especially recently).

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
Mark Twain, a Biography

The section starts out with a small mention of Anne Frank, which I skipped over because when Anne Frank is mentioned, people are usually trying to guess what she would do if she hadn’t been murdered. I would rather not think about her death, especially given that my brother is the same age now as she was then.

What I found interesting is that Jack London was a journalist, and I would have been excited to learn more about London’s journalism because I read so many of his books as a kid. According to the book, John Steinbeck wrote about Okie migrant camps in California before writing The Grapes of Wrath. George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984, worked as a journalist.

The text points out that authors are told to write what they know, which would make journalism a logical occupation to chase. Many authors also wrote nonfiction in non-journalism form. Isaac Asimov was a scientist, and wrote scientific pieces as well as humor-filled science fiction.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…”

Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992

Similar to Asimov, Keith Laumer had a scientific profession before becoming a writer: he was an officer in the United States Air Force. In 1960 (and revised in 1970), Laumer published his only non-fiction book How to Design and Build Flying Models, which RPI actually has a copy of in its library. During his lifetime, Laumer was lauded for his science fiction writing, with Dinosaur Beach being among one of his most well-liked books.

As the authors of The News Media write, authors are united in a deep love of fact; this includes science fiction writers such as Asimov, novelists such as Steinbeck, and journalists. The lines between these different types of authors is fuzzy.

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