Books -- Touring the Newsroom: An Inside Look at Newspapers by Dick Haws

Article excerpt

* Haws, Dick (1993). Touring the Newsroom: An Inside Look at Newspapers. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press. 96 pp. Paperback, $12.95.

Touring the Newsroom is not a "tour" in the traditional sense, but an overview of newspaper work. Its organization is curious: Sixty-two separate, succinct, and alphabetized sections appear as in a child's alphabet book--but without pictures and with double, triple, or quadruple entries for some letters and none for others.

Haws, the author, has a light, lucid, and friendly writing style. He can josh about newspaper oddities and carp about newsroom practices without being facetious or seeming curmudgeonly.

And carp he does, apparently in the interest of revealing some of the eccentricities and improprieties in newspapers and newspaper work. Haws notes, for instance, reporters' continued reticence to admit errors, and newspapers' frequent failure to correct known mistakes.

He mentions the tendency for some papers to use anonymous sources: "Anonymity has become the newsroom's background music." He talks about the use and abuse of bylines and reporters' tendency to confuse their roles, playing "the bully at the funeral but the wallflower in the political corruption investigation. …