Archive | January, 2017

Dewey Decimal Challenge: Book 3 – The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour — and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (The 000s)

20 Jan

This week we are venturing into 070.1 territory, where we can go to find books on television news broadcasting. Let me start by saying that I have little to no knowledge regarding the history of news broadcasting on TV, and I am barely familiar with the current climate. In a previous post I mentioned my unquenchable thirst for information on current events, but, like many people, I get most of my news content online. While television is still considered an important source for news, especially for older viewers, traditional television viewing in general has been gradually declining. Television news providers have begun to transition to providing content on digital platforms in order to remain relevant. Pew Research Center reported in June 2016 that local TV news viewership was dropping and that late night TV news viewership, with the fastest decline of all three time slots (morning, early evening, and late night), had dropped twenty-two percent since 2007. With regard to national news, the morning time slot has been hit the hardest in recent years. It is a trying time to be a TV news anchor especially in a professional field that I’ve just recently learned is already considerably stressful due to the competition between a wealth of talented candidates over a few sought-after positions.

The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (070.1 WEL)

news-sorority

In her book The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour — and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News, Sheila Weller documents the rise of three of TV’s most accomplished female news icons – Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour. Weller explores the personal and professional challenges all three women faced on the path to success, particularly the challenge of being female in a male-dominated profession. While detailing the trajectory of each woman’s life and career in depth, Weller relies heavily on insights from the friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Weller’s thesis seems to be that Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour were driven to push harder against sexist roadblocks due to tragic circumstances at different stages of their personal lives – the sudden death of Sawyer’s father when she was just twenty-four, the death of Couric’s first husband, and Amanpour’s unceremonious departure from her home country of Iran as a teen during the Islamic Revolution. While I do believe that these life events did contribute to each women’s tireless drive and great inner strength, Weller does not make a particularly strong case to support the singling out of these events. They are simply part of the awe-inspiring narrative of these women who prevailed despite having the cards stacked against them. It may be important to note that none of the subjects of this biography were interviewed themselves.

This selection was substantial at 436 pages (with very tiny type!), and I enjoyed every page despite there being no real in-depth analysis of the gender disparity in broadcasting. Weller is an objective biographer. She doesn’t glorify her subjects though she most certainly finds their stories inspiring. I was surprised to learn about Sawyer’s reputation in the biz as manipulative and insincere whilst still being well-respected by her colleagues. Weller draws back the curtain and reveals the cutthroat reality of television broadcasting. It’s cliché to say, but, in this business, only the strong survive, and they do so by eating the weak. For this, I take issue with the title – this is everything but a social gathering. This isn’t a sorority of sisters who champion each other behind closed doors, this is a ratings war: a battle for better interviewees, better producers, and coveted time slots. Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour are just like their male counterparts in that respect although these woman are perhaps more deserving of prestige.

-Written by Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

Click here to read past posts about Sharlene’s Dewey Decimal Challenge!

A Librarian Takes on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read an All-Ages Comic 1

18 Jan

This year I decided to follow the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. I said the same thing about the 2015 and 2016 challenges but didn’t succeed. But this year I’d like to complete the challenge! Sharlene has inspired me with her Dewey Decimal Challenge, so like her, I will write about the books I read here for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge to hold myself accountable.

I set the barrier for entry low by choosing to complete the “Read an all-ages comic” challenge first. I recently became aware that Jem and the Holograms have been revived in comic book form, and immediately borrowed the first two volumes. As a kid I loved watching the Jem and the Holograms cartoons, which aired from 1985-1988 (seasons one, two, and three on DVD are available to borrow). What I remember most about Jem was her pink hair. I thought it was so pretty and believed that I would have pink hair when I grew up. While I lived through the era of using Manic Panic and even Kool Aid to dye hair wild colors, I never experimented with those means. But now I have something to talk about with my hair stylist…

Back to the comics!

Jem and the Holograms, by Kelly Thompson

jem-holograms

Jem and the Holograms, the first volume that collects books 1 through 5, establishes the Holograms’ origin story. Jerrica Benton is the manager and lead singer of the band, with her sisters Kimber the keytar player, Shana the drummer, and Aja the guitarist. The story opens with the band trying to record a music video to submit to a contest sponsored by the Misfits, but Jerrica’s stage fright impedes filming. After once again failing to perform and overhearing her bandmates’ frustrations with her, Jerrica goes home where she discovers Synergy, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer designed by her late father that allows Jerrica to transform into the fearless pink-haired Jem. As Jem, Jerrica is able to record the video, which takes off and threatens the Misfits, led by the volatile Pizazz, and breeds a rivalry.

I loved the art in this edition. Each woman has her own distinct style, and diverse body types are depicted. Truth be told, I prefered the Misfits’ edgier color palettes over the Holograms’.

The story was fun to read, too. A forbidden romance develops between the Holograms’ Kimber and the Misfits’ Stormer. Jerrica dates Rio, a reporter who is writing a story about the Misfits but becomes intrigued by the Holograms, in particular the mysterious Jem who is never in the same place as Jerrica.

Jem and the Holograms Vol. 2 Viral, by Kelly Thompson

jem-holograms-viral

What makes Viral, the second volume that collects books 6 through 10, different from the first volume is the pop culture references. In the opening story, the exhausted Holograms argue over what movie to watch and we see their dreams where they are characters in their favorite movies that you will recognize, with Synergy playing a key role in each dream. I personally liked the story that imagined the Holograms and the Misfits as babies, a la The Muppet Babies cartoon (another childhood favorite!) with Synergy as Nanny, who we see only from the knees down. Viral ends with several cliffhangers and I am anxious to read the next volume to see where the story goes.

If reading these doesn’t give you enough Jem, you can borrow the recent live action movie of the same name on DVD or Blu-Ray. While I didn’t love the movie, I enjoyed Juliette Lewis as the band’s villainous manager Erica and Kesha’s cameo as Pizazz. What can I say, I think Pizazz is more interesting than Jerrica/Jem. Although regarding hair color inspiration, I am not sure green hair would be as flattering as pink.

So, this is my first completed Read Harder Challenge. Stay tuned for the next one!

Do you have any special reading goals for this year? Let me know in the comments.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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