Janet Malcolm

Perhaps more than any other journalist, Malcolm has influenced young reporters’ willingness to challenge the profession’s conventions.

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Not Always Bingo

Even if the crime rate in New York City had not dropped over the last few decades to a level that makes Broadway feel more like Main Street, the murder of Daniel Malakov, an orthodontist shot at a Queens playground in 2007, would have been notable. Malakov and his estranged wife, both doctors, were immigrants from Uzbekistan who lived among a tightly knit community of Bukharan Jews, a group known for their secrecy and impenetrability to outsiders. The couple were embroiled in a tense divorce and custody battle over their four-year-old daughter.

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In the Tank

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President By Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, 707 pp., $35) In her infamous first sentence of The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm swings for the fences and proclaims that "every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." She means that journalists use their human subjects and then dispose of them; that we con them in person by "preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness"--it occurs to me to note that however bleak print's future seems

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Storytelling

Your legal correspondent has been doing his part to keep this magazine 100 percent O.J.-free. My resolution to miss each moment of the trial of the century began out of indolence and has now blossomed into a ripe affectation. The truth is that I've always had an aversion to celebrity trials: the soap operatic narratives spun out to arouse the passions of jurors leave me alternately indifferent and uncomfortable; and the messy particularity of actual human experience tends to obscure the abstract legal principles that make my heart race.

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