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The Funniest Pages

International Perspectives on Humor in Journalism


Edited By David Swick and Richard Lance Keeble

Charles Dickens, celebrated novelist and journalist, believed that his greatest ability as a writer was to make people laugh. Yet, to date, humor has been strangely marginalized in journalism, communication and media studies.
This innovative book draws together the work of seventeen writers to show that, starting in the 1640s during the English Civil War, and continuing through to the present time, humor has indeed been an important ingredient of journalism. Countries studied include Australia, Britain, Canada, Chile and the United States. The Funniest Pages is divided into four sections: «Seriously Funny, From Past to Present,» «Unsolemn Columnists,» «This Sporting Life» and a final section, «Have Mouse, Will Laugh,» which looks at humor in online journalism. Chapters examine Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and the birth of social and political satire; Allen Ginsberg, Mad magazine, and the culture wars of the 1950s; John Clarke and the power of satire in journalism, and more.
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Chapter Six: Comedy in Tragedy: Humor in the Literary Journalism of James Cameron


← 78 | 79 →CHAPTER SIX

Humor in the Literary Journalism of James Cameron


James Cameron, one of Britain’s best-known foreign correspondents of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, was an excellent writer: insightful, nuanced, and precise. His work stands up as literature: to read Cameron today is an aesthetic and intellectual pleasure. He is worth reading now, thirty years after his death, in part because of his humor.

For nearly thirty years Cameron lived mostly in poor countries, often in dangerous circumstances. Yet he offered humor in situations where most journalists fail to see it—or don’t dare point it out. Far from rendering his reporting less serious, Cameron’s work illustrates how humor can help the reader grasp complicated issues. Humor also invites the reader to better realize others’ humanity.

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