paper trail

PEN Award finalists announced; Trump's DC Hotel bans media during inauguration week

Helen Oyeyemi. Photo: Tom Pilston

The finalists for the PEN America Literary Awards were announced yesterday. Nominees include Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Solmaz Sharif’s Look, Arthur Lubow’s Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer, and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.

Textbook publisher Pearson announced plans yesterday to sell its 47 percent stake in Penguin Random House, which it owns in partnership with Bertelsmann. The move has staff and authors concerned about consolidation. One anonymous author told The Guardian that although the company seems to be doing fine financially, “you always worry that any added pressure to streamline the business will narrow its publishing focus further. . . . For any author, you are only as good as your last book, so it’s a worry you could be vulnerable when things like this happen.”

The Washington Post announced plans for a news product for women yesterday. The Lily, named after the first newspaper run by and for women, will launch later this year as “an experimental, visually-driven product designed for millennial women that will boldly reimagine The Post’s award-winning journalism.”

In his final press conference, President Obama emphasized the need for close contact between the White House and the media, a possible reference to the Trump administration’s plan of moving journalists to another building nearby. Obama also encouraged the press to maintain its adversarial stance toward the next administration. "You're not supposed to be sycophants,” Obama said. “You're supposed to be skeptics."

The Society of Professional Journalists has partnered with sixty other journalism organizations to request a meeting with president-elect Donald Trump to discuss media access to the administration. Similar to requests made by the SJP to the Obama administration, the group wants to discuss the media’s ability to speak with government employees directly rather than through Public Information Officers, access to the President, and ways to maintain the strength of the Freedom of Information Act. In their press release, the SJP writes of hope that “they and the Trump administration can improve the lines of communication between the White House and the press.”

The Trump International Hotel in DC has banned media during the week leading up to inauguration. The building, which is owned by Trump and his children, is on a sixty-year lease from the US General Services Administration. Politico’s Daniel Lippman attempted to look into whether “the hotel’s decision to ban media from property owned by the federal government and from a hotel controlled by the president-elect” violated any aspects of the lease.