Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Last Newspaperman- Mark Di Ionno

The Last Newspaperman

Mark Di Ionno

Plexus Publishing, Sep17 2012, $22.95


ISBN: 9780937548745

In 1999, octogenarian Fred Haines tells the young reporter about his time working for the now defunct New York Mirror in the 1930s and how he never expected to look forward to lunch in a nursing home with an eighty year old broad. As the new kid on the block he got the crap that no one else wanted. In 1932, Fred is stuck covering a kidnapping in “Sticksville” on the wrong side of the Hudson, he assumes he is wasting him time even when the father allegedly is Charles Lindbergh; as he assumes someone is pulling a stunt. When he realizes the report is genuine, his name is made with this story and the follow-up when he goes mano a mano with Hauptmann. He covers the Morro Castle and Hindenburg disasters; as well as Orson Welles' eye opening radio version of the War of the Worlds in which James learns the true influence of the media to create the illusion of the reality of a false situation. Over the years while covering the Jersey beat, his ambition leads him to create false stories and other amoral actions until the mainstream media exiles him. James thrives anyway as the tabloids love his exposés not caring how he got them or whether they are real.

This is a strong nostalgic look at a time when the print media was the powerful fourth estate keeping a vigilant watch on the three other estates instead of imbedded journalism as seemingly practiced by the mainstream media today. The metafiction technique of Fred’s story within a story is deftly handled reminding readers how far reporting has changed as The Last Newspaperman is a deep character driven epic.

Harriet Klausner

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