Orange Journalism: Voices from Florida Newspapers

Article excerpt

Orange Journalism: Voices from Florida Newspapers. Julian M. Pleasants. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2003. 345 pp. $27.95 hbk.

In 1999, the Florida Press Association and the University of Florida's Samuel Proctor Oral History Program joined in a three-year project to interview notable figures who shaped and continue to shape the state's weekly and daily newspapers. In the preface, Program Director Julian M. Pleasants notes that the collection of interviews with Florida journalists now totals fifty-four, and in making selections for this book he considered overall interview quality, as well as diversity in type of newspapers, journalistic specialties, and geography.

The result is fifteen interviews organized into nine groups: national newspapers, Al Neuharth, USA Today; large newspapers, David Lawrence, Miami Herald, and Fred Pettijohn, Sun-Sentinel; medium-sized newspapers, Tippen Davidson, News-Journal, Diane McFarlin, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Earle Bowden, Pensacola News Journal; weekly newspapers, Tommy Greene, Madison County Carrier and Madison En terprise Reporter, Loyal Frisbie, Polk County Democrat; African American press, Garth Reeves, Miami Times; Hispanic press, Horacio Aguirre, Diario las Americas; columnists and investigative journalists, Rick Bragg, New York Times, Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, Lucy Morgan, St. Petersburg Times; editorial cartoonists, Don Wright, Palm Beach Post; sportswriters, Edwin Pope, Miami Herald.

These choices also represent both chain and independent papers, younger and older journalists, and women as well as men. As Pleasants notes, obviously many important figures in Florida journalism are missing from this list, but interviewing is continuing and a list of other interviews in the collection is available through the program web site: http://www.clas.ufl.edu/history/oral.

The questions directed to the subjects were well chosen and provide insights into their careers, their journalistic philosophies, and the evolution of their newspapers as well as some differences of opinion. For example, when journalists were asked about USA Today as the newspaper of the future, Today was described as the inspiration behind the end of dull gray newspapers, "a little vapid, a little uninteresting," "a new dimension to the printed word," and "a newspaper that, at its very best, is bad." On this subject, as with others, the views of each journalist may not appear, perhaps because, as Pleasants notes, for Orange Journalism he edited the interviews down to 30% to 40% of the originals. …