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Global Literary Journalism

Exploring the Journalistic Imagination, Volume 2

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Edited By Richard Lance Keeble and John Tulloch

Following on from the first volume published in 2012, this new volume significantly expands the scope of the study of literary journalism both geographically and thematically.
Chapters explore literary journalism not only in the United Kingdom, the United States and India – but also in countries not covered in the first volume such as Australia, France, Brazil and Portugal, while its central themes help lead the study of literary journalism into previously unchartered territory. More focus is placed on the origins of literary journalism, with chapters exploring the previously ignored journalism of writers such as Myles na gCopaleen, Marguerite Duras, Mohatma Gandhi, Leigh Hunt, D. H. Lawrence, Mary McCarthy and Evelyn Waugh.
Critical overviews of African American literary journalism in the 1950s and of literary journalism in Brazil from 1870 to the present day are also provided, and a section asks whether there is a specific women’s voice in literary journalism.
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17. Indian Literary Journalism in the Age of Mobile Phones

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Indian Literary Journalism IN THE Age OF Mobile Phones

NALINI RAJAN



Indian journalism is caught in a paradoxical situation in the 21st century. More than half the Indian population of 1.2 billion people uses mobile phones, and mobile journalism appears to have a bright future in the country. Mobile journalists, or “mojos,” are taught to craft messages within the 140-character limit set by Twitter. While citizens can use smartphones to report what they witness, journalists are bound by professional ethics to use their phones to provide authoritative information that is also backed by facts. In short, mobile journalism is the “fast food” equivalent of the craft of news delivery.

Curiously enough, this century has also heralded new Indian long-form styles of writing in English, the most favored of which is literary journalism. Here, I suppose, the culinary equivalent would be “slow food” – the capacity to savor every morsel, every grain. But there is something odd about promoting literary journalism in an age of news delivery on mobile phones. It tells us something about the regressive aspect of our professional tastes, which entangles us in the recent past, even as we try to move forward into the digital age.

In the United States of America, “slow” journalism developed in reaction to “the pale beige tone” (Wolfe 1972) of agency-style news reporting in the 1950s and 1960s. The rule of thumb in those days was...

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