Thursday, February 19, 2009

Martha Gellhorn is amazing.

Seriously. The Face of War is the newest addition to my list of books that changed the way I think about the world, writing, and life in general.

Martha Gellhorn was a war correspondent who reported on conflicts from the Spanish civil war to the war in Vietnam. If she wasn't allowed into a conflict zone, she stowed away on a ship or truck to get in. She had no patience for the official version of events and insisted on seeing everything with her own eyes. Her trademark was telling stories about regular people that exposed something uncomfortable just by being true.

The journalism blogs I read are a constant stream of flap about how journalists can revive the media. Their prescription usually has something to do with multimedia journalism, social media, and killing newspapers in favour of web news.

Let me throw a crazy idea out there: Maybe the internet has nothing, or very little, to do with why people aren't reading newspapers. Maybe it's because no one's writing anything that inspires them to read. All my heroes of journalism - Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and now Martha Gellhorn - are from another age. They're also all rule breakers. They didn't play it safe. They chewed up journalism text books and spat them out. And the end result was riveting.

No comments: