This book examines the history, theory and journalistic practice of profile writing. Profiles, and the practice of writing them, are of increasing interest to scholars of journalism because conflicts between the interviewer and the subject exemplify the changing nature of journalism itself. While the subject, often through the medium of their press representative, struggles to retain control of the interview space, the journalist seeks to subvert it. This interesting and multi-layered interaction, however, has rarely been subject to critical scrutiny, partly because profiles have traditionally been regarded as public relations exercises or as ‘soft’ journalism. However, chapters in this volume reveal not only that profiling has, historically, taken many different forms, but that the idea of the interview as a contested space has applications beyond the subject of celebrated individuals. The volume looks at the profile’s historical beginnings, at the contemporary manufacture of celebrity versus the ‘ordinary’, at profiling communities, countries and movements, at profiling the destitute, at sporting personalities and finally at profiling and trauma.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Profiling—Painting a Picture in Words Richard Lance Keeble and Sue Joseph Section I: History of the Profile: From Canterbury Tales to the Present Day 1. The Pre-History of Profiles, 1380-1800: Chaucer, News Ballads, the English Civil War and Boswell Grant Hannis 2. Profiling Pitt: The First Political Profile and its Legacies Nikki Hessell 3. Precursor to the Profile: The Character Sketch in Colonial Australia Willa McDonald 4. Profile and Counter-Profile: On Joseph Mitchell’s Joe Goulds Mateus Yuri Passos 5. The Return of the Long-Form Profile: A Case Study of the Quarterly Essay and The Monthly in Australia Matthew Ricketson Section II: The Manufacture of Celebrity and ‘the Ordinary’ 6. Edna Staebler and the Lives of Women Bruce Gillespie 7. Disclosure and Enclosure: Revisiting Media Profiles of Jimmy Savile Simon Cross 8. Profiles of Lived Experience: Charles Reznikoff, Muriel Rukeyser and Mark Nowak William Dow Section III: More than Just the Individual: Profiling Communities, Countries, Movements 9. John Bull Scrambling for Africa: A Portrait of the English at the Heyday of Empire Isabel Soares 10. How Profiles in the Women’s Penny Paper/Woman’s Herald Challenged Cultural Stereotypes—and Promoted Feminism F. Elizabeth Gray 11. Profiling Controversial Social Movements: Arundhati Roy’s Challenges, Style and Insights Jane Chapman Section IV: This Sporting Life 12. The Dark Side of the Moon of Walter Mitty: George Plimpton and the Reinvention of Reality Nick Nuttall 13. New Rules of the Game: Sports Journalism and Profiles Peter English Section V: Profiling and the Trauma Narrative 14. The Empathetic Profiler and Ethics: Trauma Reporting and Advocacy Sue Joseph 15. Profiling War: Managing Trauma in Reporting Horror—the Case of Boštjan Videmšek Leonora Flis
Sue Joseph is Senior Lecturer in the Journalism and Creative Writing programs at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Richard Lance Keeble is Professor in the School of English and Journalism at the University of Lincoln, UK