There has been a lot of media attention to the fate of book review sections across the country, particularly the elimination of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution book editor position, currently held by Teresa Weaver. A petition circulated around the globe via the web, and has gained almost 6000 signatures. Alas, it appears that the minds at AJC have not yet been swayed.
I received an email from Teresa today (we had been corresponding about what books she would have reviewed in her final weeks, and which I might review for her), and she revealed that she would not be assigning anymore, that the AJC books section will now move to wire-only reviews, save for those on local titles.
This fate is similar to the landscape at the Honolulu Advertiser, where I write reviews and a weekly column, What I’m Reading, interviewing local notables about their reading habits. On half a broadsheet there are the bestseller lists, ads, one review or feature, and my column. The reviews? If they’re not local, or of local interest, they’ve come from the wires.
As I’ve said elsewhere here, and on the NBCC blog Critical Mass, it’s a wonder newspapers aren’t more concerned about alienating readers. After all, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz said on a recent edition of his show Reliable Sources, “without them, the paper wouldn’t exist at all.” Check out the rest of what he said about book reviews, then, if you haven’t already, consider signing the AJC petition.
Even if the AJC Books Section fate seems decided, fates can always change.