Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


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American reading – any recommendations?

My favourite thing about the holidays is the chance to sink deep down into fiction. I’ve just turned the final page of a big, emotional, multilayered historical novel by author Ethan Canin about American politics and family, and I really feel I’ve been inhabiting that world. A work called “America, America” was always going to be ambitious wasn’t it! It’s great reading for a political junkie like me, as it weaves together a fictional community with all the real events of the presidential primary campaign of 1972. It also reminds me of another novel that kept me thinking long after I put it aside – “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’ve just realised they were published within months of each other in 2008; intriguing to have a male and female narrator to compare. Anyone else with recommendations for big novels about American politics, let me know!

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Top tips for Digital Journalists

Mark Luckie is a man with a mission : in his words, “to help usher in a new era of journalism.” He’s the new National Innovations Editor for the Washington Post. He’s the author of the Digital Journalists Handbook. He made his name blogging at 10,000 words. And luckily for fellows at the Nieman Foundation, he was happy today to dish out his top tips, tools and websites. Continue reading


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Very good news for BBC viewers in the United States

I’ve been reporting in the US and about the US for the BBC since 1997, and never fail to find enthusiasm for the brand. Viewers here watch us on PBS, they watch us on BBC America, and appreciative listeners find us on NPR across the United States. And now I see on Paid Content UK that the BBC is rolling with the times to offer access by subscription on iPad as well. I think it’s a great move. Especially at a time when we need to shore up support for our public service model, and look beyond the pockets of the British taxpayer.

A final word from Paid Content: ” The upshot is, it could unlock a future for the BBC in the online age as a significant global online operator. ”


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Clay Shirky tells us Foreign News is facing market failure

“When did you stop being an optimist?” I asked CLAY SHIRKY , author of “Here Comes Everybody” & “Cognitive Surplus”. He’s known as an evangelist for the tools of new media. He’s written lovingly and at length about the opportunities social networks provide for us all to come together, and maybe change the world for good.

In conversation with fellows at the Nieman Foundation today, he tackled the downside that’s dearest to our hearts. If as he puts it “everyone is a media outlet”, then he clearly believes much of traditional media is history. Here’s what I jotted down as we all dug into the future of news. Continue reading