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Submersion Journalism: Reporting in the Radical First Person from Harper's Magazine

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“Submersion journalism” happens when a reporter dares to see a story from the inside: to participate in the events at hand, sometimes undercover, and then to tell the tale from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity. During the Bush years, Harper’s correspondents infiltrated the Republican machine, from its lowliest canvassing operation t “Submersion journalism” happens when a reporter dares to see a story from the inside: to participate in the events at hand, sometimes undercover, and then to tell the tale from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity. During the Bush years, Harper’s correspondents infiltrated the Republican machine, from its lowliest canvassing operation to its corporate and evangelical elite, and they posed as shady clients for sleazy blue-chip lobbying firms. They shot machine guns, lounged in Vegas brothels, and peered into secret tunnels in Mexicali. They terrorized art museums and touched off worldwide fads. Here are some of the best examples of participatory reporting published in the past decade, called “brilliant work” by the Los Angeles Times. Contributors: Charles Bowden Adam Davidson Barbara Ehrenreich Steve Featherstone Kristoffer A. Garin Gary Greenberg Roger D. Hodge Jay Kirk Willem Marx Morgan Meis Jeff Sharlet Jake Silverstein Ken Silverstein Wells Tower William T. Vollmann Bill Wasik


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“Submersion journalism” happens when a reporter dares to see a story from the inside: to participate in the events at hand, sometimes undercover, and then to tell the tale from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity. During the Bush years, Harper’s correspondents infiltrated the Republican machine, from its lowliest canvassing operation t “Submersion journalism” happens when a reporter dares to see a story from the inside: to participate in the events at hand, sometimes undercover, and then to tell the tale from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity. During the Bush years, Harper’s correspondents infiltrated the Republican machine, from its lowliest canvassing operation to its corporate and evangelical elite, and they posed as shady clients for sleazy blue-chip lobbying firms. They shot machine guns, lounged in Vegas brothels, and peered into secret tunnels in Mexicali. They terrorized art museums and touched off worldwide fads. Here are some of the best examples of participatory reporting published in the past decade, called “brilliant work” by the Los Angeles Times. Contributors: Charles Bowden Adam Davidson Barbara Ehrenreich Steve Featherstone Kristoffer A. Garin Gary Greenberg Roger D. Hodge Jay Kirk Willem Marx Morgan Meis Jeff Sharlet Jake Silverstein Ken Silverstein Wells Tower William T. Vollmann Bill Wasik

30 review for Submersion Journalism: Reporting in the Radical First Person from Harper's Magazine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Knox

    As with any collection there are excellent essays and some that fell short of expectation. It's not so much subversive journalism in the Hunter S. Thompson sense, but that these are talented writers under cover and out of the element reporting back from the other side. They're funny, sad, outraging, and well written, but generally a mixed bag to read back to back. Memorable essays include... - Wells Tower, a Kerry supporter canvassing in Florida for the Bush vote was funny - Someone posing as a rep As with any collection there are excellent essays and some that fell short of expectation. It's not so much subversive journalism in the Hunter S. Thompson sense, but that these are talented writers under cover and out of the element reporting back from the other side. They're funny, sad, outraging, and well written, but generally a mixed bag to read back to back. Memorable essays include... - Wells Tower, a Kerry supporter canvassing in Florida for the Bush vote was funny - Someone posing as a representative for an evil country getting pitched by DC lobbyists made me mad - An atheist at a Christian political camp was awkward - Guy who goes to a machine gun festival and shoots a ton of shit was strange - Someone who gets breast cancer and explains the treatments was sad - Someone who gets treated for depression and doesn't see a change wasn't very affecting - A married man undercover on a Russian bride tour was fascinating - An intern for US political propaganda in Iraq was enlightening - and finally Adam Davidson's essay on buying a house in Baghdad since he was spending so much time there, and running it as a short stay hotel with other media guests until it got out of hand and blew up in his face was by far the best, more enjoyable, and compelling essay. For the most part, people didn't just go undercover to report - they went in with an opposing agenda which framed the entire experience through that lens of the reader knowing they were a secret agent and worrying if they'll be discovered. But beyond that thrill, some of this didn't feel like "feature journalism" and I'd have stopped reading if it were in a magazine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Nice roundup of pieces I missed or forgot about from Harper's -- especially Barbara Ehrenreich's great essay on the infantilizing pink-ribbon cancer culture; very contrary, and pitch perfect. Other good pieces here too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven Farmer

    15 Pieces of Reportage from Harper's magazine reporters. Well worth reading.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Submersion Journalism As the print media is slowly dying, there is still some great writing that appears, even on the left. Submersion Journalism edited by Bill Wasik is a collection of some of the finest works of longer essays first published in Harper’s magazine. Although there is not much in the book that I believe in politically, I can say that the writing is top notch, even if the tone and actions are deplorable. Submersion Journalism is sort of a new take on Gonzo, with so many people wanti Submersion Journalism As the print media is slowly dying, there is still some great writing that appears, even on the left. Submersion Journalism edited by Bill Wasik is a collection of some of the finest works of longer essays first published in Harper’s magazine. Although there is not much in the book that I believe in politically, I can say that the writing is top notch, even if the tone and actions are deplorable. Submersion Journalism is sort of a new take on Gonzo, with so many people wanting to be the next Hunter S. Thompson (though none ever will). The idea is for the writer to join a group or subculture to which he does not belong and write about what happens. Usually this is the type of work that serves to mock people and make a point, nothing truly meaningful tends to emerge, but that is my take. Read for yourself…

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    If you are going to pick and choose... Yes: Ken Silverstein (scary) Jeff Sharlet (weird and scary) Barbara Ehrenreich (why isn't there an ajectival form of "integrity"?) Gary Greenberg (satisfying for the choir) Kristoffer Garin (funny in a loving way) Jake Silverstein (funny in a sardonic way) Bill Wasik (anti-hipster) Willem Marx (nice) No: Steve Featherstone (guns are boring) William Vollman (his opening paragraphs are always so promising, but the promises are always so empty) Morgan Meis (I have no idea If you are going to pick and choose... Yes: Ken Silverstein (scary) Jeff Sharlet (weird and scary) Barbara Ehrenreich (why isn't there an ajectival form of "integrity"?) Gary Greenberg (satisfying for the choir) Kristoffer Garin (funny in a loving way) Jake Silverstein (funny in a sardonic way) Bill Wasik (anti-hipster) Willem Marx (nice) No: Steve Featherstone (guns are boring) William Vollman (his opening paragraphs are always so promising, but the promises are always so empty) Morgan Meis (I have no idea how this useless pretentious snot made it in here) Adam Davidson (I have no idea how this racist, egomaniacal, would-be colonialist made it in here) Maybe-So: Wells Tower (nothing special) Charles Bowden (if you like Cormac McCarthy) Jay Kirk (if you like David Lynch)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Marked as "read," but I was actually too bored to finish these essays. Aside from one in which the author joins a group of men who have traveled to Europe to find wives, many of these essays hardly qualify as journalism so much as, "Here's a unique environment, let me hang out here a bit and then tell you about it but without any real plot." Yes, the environment was unique, but you've got to give me - the reader - a bit more than that. In several, the author clearly had a backstory they weren't Marked as "read," but I was actually too bored to finish these essays. Aside from one in which the author joins a group of men who have traveled to Europe to find wives, many of these essays hardly qualify as journalism so much as, "Here's a unique environment, let me hang out here a bit and then tell you about it but without any real plot." Yes, the environment was unique, but you've got to give me - the reader - a bit more than that. In several, the author clearly had a backstory they weren't sharing completely, which made the narrative confusing; in others, they failed to provide any meaningful motive for even writing said essay. I'd pass on this collection.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Liao

    I picked up this book because it was a bargain book - It turned out to be a pretty interesting/entertaining read. Particularly enjoyed the articles on Bush's election campaign, on the pink market built around cancer, on the very first flash mob, and on the life in Iraq as a journalist running an accommodation. While not all of the articles are as well written (most of them are good, few were a bit blah), all of them gave certain insights into the topics. Very enjoyable read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Peace

    What excellent journalism is all about. Even the fawning is presented as fawning and not truth. I particularly recommend "Bird-Dogging the Bush Vote," Jesus Plus Nothing," "Welcome to Cancerland," "A Foreign Affair," "What Is Poetry?" and both the Iraq pieces-"Misinformation Intern," and "Out of Iraq." May just have to subscribe to "Harper's Magazine" because of this collection.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It's a great collection - some better than others, but mostly gripping and incisive. I really enjoyed the article on the creation of Flash Mobs, as well as on Ukrainian bride-shopping tours. But, frankly, with the bounty of the Internet (and the wonderful compiler longform.org) this type of anthology may have less importance.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

    The first two essays were amazing. Amazing writing. Writers who went underground (a dem volunteering for the repubs before the elections to watch for malfeasance; a writer posing as an investor for one of the worst human-rights abusive countries and how he cracks into the washington lobby). Smart writing, vivid.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I was extremely disappointed by the lack of female writers in this book. That said, my favorite piece was the piece on the cult of Breast Cancer survivorship by Barbara Ehrenreich. A few really amazing pieces, but more women would have made it that much better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chloé

    Im only a quarter of a way through but so far I love it! It forces you to aknowlege problems and corruption everyone is in denial about.

  13. 5 out of 5

    NEWMARKJRESEARCH

    Please check the display shelves and cabinets.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Xmas gift from John.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christeen

    If you like Harpers....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liam Wilson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Em

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Smith

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erik

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tyson Mote

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maya

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Urquhart

  27. 4 out of 5

    Time Out Chicago Books

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jazmin A

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ira Gooding

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