Dark Days in the Newsroom

  • by Edward Alwood
  • Narrated by Robert Thaler
  • 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Dark Days in the Newsroom traces how journalists became radicalized during the Depression era, only to become targets of Senator Joseph McCarthy and like-minded anti-Communist crusaders during the 1950s. Edward Alwood, a former news correspondent, describes this remarkable story of conflict, principle, and personal sacrifice with noticeable élan. He shows how McCarthy's minions pried inside newsrooms thought to be sacrosanct under the First Amendment, and details how some journalists mounted a heroic defense of freedom of the press while others secretly enlisted in the government's anti-communist crusade.
Relying on previously undisclosed documents from FBI files along with personal interviews, Alwood provides a richly informed commentary on one of the most significant moments in the history of American journalism. Arguing that the experiences of the McCarthy years profoundly influenced the practice of journalism, he shows how many of the issues faced by journalists in the 1950s prefigure today's conflicts over the right of journalists to protect their sources.
The book is published by Temple University Press.

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What the Critics Say

"An excellent book...This is going to be a valuable addition to the books on the subject and an important component to a journalism students' library." (Jarice Hanson, University of Massachusetts)
"This book is particularly evocative as the nation faces a debate about national security and press freedom." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

ambitious, original

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes because its an original and unbiased depiction of the Red Scare of the 40s and 50s, provides excellent context and the author does not side immediately with the accused as is so prevalent in previous decades


What was one of the most memorable moments of Dark Days in the Newsroom?

I was not familiar at all with the infamous Venona Cables which were communiques from Moscow to Communist Party operations in the U.S. in the 30s and I think the 40s. There were thousands of these kept confidential until much later. The realization that Party officials or commissars in Russia were at times quite incompetent in their spy operations was both funny and probably quite typical. That they were directly funding flights and travel expenses abroad for certain American reporters was disturbing and very interesting


What does Robert Thaler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I was able to listen with ease over 2 short days. Thaler has weight and flair. I think they hired the right guy. I just wish Audible would do that more often, hire the right guy for the job, I have in the past been stuck with some real lemons


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

the passages about Harvey Matusow, the government stooge who was a working informant and insinuated himself into Joe McCarthy's inner circle were highly entertaining. I mean the man was quite obviously unstable and a chronic liar who fabricated numbers,names,events,you name it, to further his own ends. He could be compared to some of the leakers today in Washington. Matusow claimed there were 125 paid Communists on the staff of the NYTimes but the Staff only employed 76 people at that time. Listening to Joe McCarthy operate at the hearings was revealing to say the least, you really get a feel for the guy.


Any additional comments?

the writer was well balanced in his approach. I commend him for that. There are two sides to this story, he covers the victims and those falsely accused, but also covers how the Guilds and Newspapers were infiltrated by Communists especially in the 30s what were the reasons and context for all this. Very informative. My criticism would be that at times like in the Valerie Plame comparisons in the book the story gets a little hard to follow but other than that its a big winner and I want to see what else this writer comes up with in the future.

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- pete

Well Done

What made the experience of listening to Dark Days in the Newsroom the most enjoyable?

Was somehow easy to understand a very complex time. I am presently studying this period in history in a seminar at our college. Alwood makes it more approachable by introducing a fair number of characters from then people like J. Edgar Hoover, Edward R. Murrow,etc.


What did you like best about this story?

I both liked and did not like the Senator Eastland who went after the Communists in the hearings. The story gave me a choice to decide for myself.


What about Robert Thaler’s performance did you like?

He has authority. A fine voice but can be warm too. I don't know. Sometimes he sounded like a guy from the news reels back then.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes. The woman who wrote for the newspaper who was black listed. It was heartbreaking. She had worked for the same paper for over 25 years and then was released for being associated with the Communist Party.


Any additional comments?

The writer did a very,very good job discussing a particularly difficult and important period in our history. It forces me to address what is happening now. How much of a free press do we have? Who is influencing reporters today? How do I separate truth from pure fiction and lies?

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- julie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-12-2017
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks