More than novels, plays, or poems, what journalists have written between assignments have been their autobiographies. The autobiographical impulse has seized police reporters, foreign correspondents, sportswriters, city editors, television news anchors-virtually every species of journalist that has ever existed. This book examines why journalists have been so drawn to the autobiographical form and what sorts of identities they have carved out for themselves within it. The author focuses on the autobiographies of eight journalists, including Jacob Riis' The Making of an American, Elizabeth Jordan's Three Rousing Cheers, Vincent Sheean's Personal History, Agness Underwood's Newswoman, and H.L. Mencken's Days trilogy. He analyzes the autobiographies not only as literary creations but also as cultural products. By connecting the autobiographies to the development of journalism as a profession, and, in the case of female journalists, to the struggle against traditional gender roles, he illuminates the complex interplay between private needs and public expectations in the autobiographical process. Although the story of a profession or calling is the most common type of modern autobiography, scholars have concentrated on other types. This book aims to fill part of the void. The first in-depth study of journalists as autobiographers, it suggests new ways to think about self, work, writing, and the culture that binds them together.
Howard Good (BA, literature, Bard College; MA, journalism, University of Iowa; Ph.D., American culture, University of Michigan) is Associate Professor of Journalism, SUNY, New Paltz. He has published Acquainted With the Night: The Image of Journalists in American Fiction, 1890-1930 and Outcasts: The Image of Journalists in Contemporary Film (Scarecrow, 1986, 1989), as well as numerous scholarly articles. He worked on daily newspapers in Michigan, North Carolina, and North Dakota.