I’ve been reading Dotty Oliver’s Mistress of the Misunderstood, which is a collection of her columns from the Little Rock Press. In the last few years the FREEP became known as the Arkansas Free Press, since by that point it had essentially become a statewide paper.
Reading over Dotty’s columns is like getting into a time machine, and seeing a view of Arkansas that you just don’t generally see in daily newspaper reporting and editorial writing. I’m not going out of my way to slam that sort of writing, but for the most part, it doesn’t stand out, I think.
It is in the realm of alternative media that you are most likely to see stories and the expression of viewpoints just not seen in most other media.
But here’s the rub. By and large, it’s the daily newspapers that win the history war. When you go to the library to research local or state history, chances are that it will be the daily papers who will be recorded on microfilm, and not the alternative papers.
True, many universities preserve alternative papers, but many don’t know that.
And on regional history bookshelves? The works of alternative journalists are rarely, if ever, found collected.
It’s a labor of love for a writer to sift through their material and self-publish their work. Certainly you don’t get rich from doing so. But I think that what such books have to offer outweighs what we writers lack in any financial recompense.
Quite simply, the books offer offer a unique view of history that you won’t see reflected anywhere else. Oftentimes they talk about political and social conflicts that not only threatened the very fabric of a community, but also helped to ultimately shape the way it evolved.
They talk about the ordinary men and women among us, the long-forgotten activists who stood up to those in power to make their communities a better place to live in.
You will rarely, if ever, find these books in a Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center, as they don’t show a hugs and kisses view of history, but instead show real people, exhibiting real passions in fighting for what they believed in.
There probably should be some sort of date base for books drawn from alternative media, so that readers can seek them out in libraries and bookstores.
On getting more people to collect their memories
I’ve written for several alternative publications over the years in Arkansas, and it’s frustrated me for a long time that other writers - many of whom are much better writers than I am - haven’t also collected their writings into book form.
I have urged several over the years, for example, but only a few have jumped into the same pool that Dotty Oliver and I have jumped into.
I wish they would.
There’s still plenty of time to do so, though.
Quote of the Day
"Perhaps the most obvious political effect of controlled news is the advantage it gives powerful people in getting their issues on the political agenda and defining those issues in ways likely to influence their resolution.": W. Lance Bennett - Author, professor at University of Washington Source: News: The Politics of Illusion, 1983
Nancy Allen: To Kill a Mockingbird
This week I sit down with former Fayetteville alderman Nancy Allen to discuss the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in the series known informally as Read More Books!
Days and Times:
Wednesday - 10am
Friday - 9pm
C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville.
Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at:
Programs online are shown in “real time,” meaning that they are shown at the same time as they are shown on C.A.T.