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Rebecca Traister on Writing Political Books in the 21st Century

rtauthorphoto.jpgMore than any other generation of writers, 21st Century political reporters know exactly what their readership is thinking–bombarded daily with comments, blog posts, and emails.

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was Rebecca Traister, Salon.com columnist and author of the upcoming book, Big Girls Don’t Cry. She discussed her recent op-ed about Sarah Palin and gave advice for writers hoping to cover the 2012 election.

Press play below to listen.

“I’m not a traditional political beat reporter,” Traister said, explaining how her work at Salon.com shaped the book. “As soon as I would write something, I would get hundreds and sometimes thousands of people telling me what they thought. It helped me understand what the sentiment was out there, at least among the sector of people I was writing for. There’s some of that in my book–I write about the reactions I got at Salon, because they helped me understand how these conversations were playing out across the country.”


She also explored the unique challenge of pitching a book in the middle of a breaking news story, like the 2008 election: “I think a writer should have a sense of what the arc has been so far–so that you can anticipate any number of endings and still have a book. In my case, because we were almost at the general election, there had been such a tremendous story told so far. I was quite sure of the arc, the story I’d seen unfolding … I think it is really about being sure about your narrative up until the point that you are making the pitch and being imaginative about the ways it might end.”

(Author photo via Sarah Karnasiewicz)

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