paper trail

Wesley Lowery on media objectivity and white neutrality; New podcast Octavia’s Parables devoted to the work of Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler. Photo: Nikolas Coukouma/Wikicommons

President Trump’s younger brother has taken legal action in an attempt to block the publication of a tell-all book by the president’s niece, Mary L. Trump.

In the New York Times opinion section, Wesley Lowery looks at the question of objectivity in the media and the ways in which white ideas and opinions are considered “neutral.” Lowry calls for a new standard of fairness and truth-telling: “instead of promising our readers that we will never, on any platform, betray a single personal bias . . . a better pledge would be an assurance that we will devote ourselves to accuracy, that we will diligently seek out the perspectives of those with whom we personally may be inclined to disagree and that we will be just as sure to ask hard questions of those with whom we’re inclined to agree.” For more on journalistic objectivity, see Ari M. Brostoff review of The View From Somewhere, in Bookforum’s winter issue.

A new report on the UK book industry, “Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing,” was released this week. In her introduction, Bernardine Evaristo, the 2019 Booker Prize winner in fiction, points out that “black and Asian people are not considered to be a substantial readership, or to even be readers.” The study found that while the publishing industry has the stated goal of being more inclusive, there are still many obstacles for writers of color, including assumptions about who their core readership is, fears that nonwhite authors are too “niche,” and the industry’s inability to engage with new audiences. The report calls on publishers, agents, and booksellers to question their assumptions, change their practices, and hire more diversely. Evaristo writes, “I look forward to a time when these reports are no longer necessary because the publishing industry reflects our society at large and is truly egalitarian.”

Don DeLillo’s new book, The Silence, will be released on October 20th.

At Columbia Journalism Review, Gabriel Snyder looks at the New York Times’s correction policy. (Since the Times discontinued the public editor position at the paper, Snyder has been unofficially filling the role via CJR.) Snyder notes that routine spelling and factual errors are swiftly fixed, but wonders about larger inaccuracies.

Toshi Reagon and Adrienne Maree Brown have launched a new podcast, Octavia’s Parables, about the work of Octavia E. Butler.