The question at the end of the headline

“…They don’t believe that they are able to tell the truth without a question mark.” – Jon Lovett

I started my liberal indoctrination listening to Pod Save America a few months ago.

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‘The Last Magazine’ a corporate drama about journalism

9/10

Danger looming, the momentum building up, an epic fall approaches. The knives are unsheathed, incisors sharpened, and enemies and targets of his scorn in the past are making phone calls, remarks on television, coming out of the media landscape, electronic specters with Rolodexes and grudges and access to editors, nudging the story along.

“The Last Magazine” has certainly made me reexamine my role in journalism. As a growing journalist and writer, the novel has been a bit of a wakeup call. I love the pressure of the newsroom, but this book has made me wonder: is it worth it?

Michael Hasting’s novel, which he claims is pure fiction, is a corporate drama about the death of conventional journalism and the rise of the Internet, as seen through a young intern’s eyes (plus a lot of sex and a lot of substance abuse). In the story we read about two journalists: veteran foreign correspondent and addict A.E. Peoria and the intern, Hasting’s himself, as they build their careers at a publication simply dubbed The Magazine.

The novel contrasts the life of Peoria with the elitist society of big league editors and publishers at The Magazine. As The Magazine’s editors scramble for top positions and salaries they leave Peoria to fend for himself. His only rock is his career, and it’s slipping.  Meanwhile the new journalism – the “now journalism” – erupts in the blogosphere. The very foundation of journalism – paper – begins to shift to the digitized world.

Ten years after Hasting’s story finishes I find myself in a time where web content and “now” media are the dominant media. For me, journalism is one way to pursue a career as a writer. Though the job market may be bleak, “The Last Magazine” is a reminder that the opportunities go beyond The Magazine. Not to mention the story is raunchy, smutty, cynical, humorous and very well written.

If you’re pursuing a career as a writer I would highly recommend giving it a read.

A tough “Son of a Beach”: Telling war stories

Telling someone else’s story often helps you define your own. That’s what was written in an L.A. Times article about the San Quentin News, an inmate-produced newspaper in the San Quentin Prison,California.

Staffers say their work can induce soul-searching, that telling other people’s stories helps them explore their own lives. And it can be a source of pride.

I love journalism because it provides me a look into another person’s life. They paint the picture, but I am the medium. It’s hard not to get excited when you meet someone with similar life experiences that you can relate to – or, at the very least, someone with the same passion.

Today, George Butenschoen and I discussed his upbringing in South Dakota before WWII. I’m compiling a story about George’s experience during the war. George is a Bellingham, Wash., local, who joined the Navy in his early 20’s and saw three invasions in the Mediterranean. He lived on a small naval assault boat nicknamed “Son of a Beach” for practically three years.

We discussed his love of working the fields, his daily regimen on the farms, and of course, what it was like living in the “Dirty Thirties.” But inbetween this conversation, he tells me about looking into the water of Omaha Beach in Normandy and seeing the bodies of young Americans floating face down in the aftermath of D-Day.

IMG_4491(A worn photo of George Buttenschoen, pictured in his Navy uniform, c. 1942. Photo Courtesy of George Buttenschoen)

Sometimes he stops when we discuss these things, as if catching himself. He fumbles his words a bit and then turns his gaze away from me.

“That stuff was nothin’ compared to what my brother had seen.”

Oscar Buttenschoen, George’s younger brother, had been the epitome of an American hero in WWII. He was a gruff young man, “built like a brick house,” who would fight anything that moved, George tells me. While George had joined the Navy, Oscar joined the Army. Oscar served as a tanker under General Patton. Shortly after the war was over, he joined the Air Force. Oscar died in Salerno, Calif, in 1950 at the age of 28.

I do my best to reassure George that his story is just as important as Oscar’s. But I find myself in a parallel reality. Though I saw my own share of conflict in Iraq, I never saw the heavy fighting that some of my friends saw. I digress the same way George does when he brings up his experiences.

“It was never really that bad…”

Yet, I’m convinced that each of our stories is just as important. I’m continuously discovering my own meaning to my experience overseas.

Veterans are often easily coined in U.S. culture, especially in popular media. It is typically a one-dimensional perception though.

Former Army officer David Eisler wrote in a New York Times blog post:

If you listen closely to the national conversation about today’s veterans, you will hear two stories that seem to be at odds with each other.

One story is about healthy, hard-working, disciplined, well-trained and experienced veterans who would be an asset to any business or organization. The other tells of broken, disabled, traumatized veterans who have physical and behavioral health issues and require constant care and supervision.

Eisler provides great examples of two sensational views of veterans, in the past and present.

As a writer, I’m tempted to provide an audience with an entertaining and informative story. As a veteran, I’m obligated to tell a story that is authentic.