Hell and High Water Runner-Up in 2014 National Federation of Press Women Awards

NFPW Award Winner 2014Hell and High Water has been named as 2014’s second-best non-fiction adult title by the National Federation of Press Women.

In the award write-up, judges called out the book’s mastery in recounting an historical event in a compelling way:

“Rebecca Theim tells a difficult story of the death of a beloved newspaper. True to her journalistic roots, she is thorough and balanced, though impassioned. She names names, points out mistakes and kudos, all while telling the story well, making her mastery of the narrative craft evident. The story is fast-moving and so well done, it is a lesson in how to record historical events in a way that captures the imagination and attention of any and all readers. Even if you have nothing to do with New Orleans or the newspaper business, this is well-told story of an important piece of history that you need to read.”

The National Federation of Press Women is an organization of professionals in careers across communications, including print and electronic journalism, public relations, advertising, and digital media. It conducts a national communications contest that attracts entries in 64 categories.

The complete list of winner is available here.

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Capital New York includes Hell and High Water on its “Holiday Media Reads” List

Capital New York’s media columnist Joe Pompeo puts Hell and High Water in VERY good capital-logo– and exclusive – company by including it in its “Holiday Media Reads.”

“Inside the ‘grassroots’ campaign to keep a vaunted daily newspaper afloat,” the article reads. “A deep dive on a good old-fashioned newspaper war by a former reporter going back to her roots.”

The selective five-book list includes tomes on Rupert Murdoch (by NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik), Fox News’ Roger Ailes, New York sports radio media institution WFAN and Scandal: A Manual, a montage about infamous gossip columnists. You can see the entire list here.

Lagniappe, Mobile’s alt-weekly, excerpts the book

The Press-Register of Mobile, Alabama, was one of three Advance Publications newspapers in that state that were subjected to “digital first” on the same day as The Times-Picayune. (The other two were The Huntsville Times and The Birmingham News.) More than 400 Advance employees and contractors Lagniappe-Mobile_Logoin Alabama lost their jobs as a result.

Lagniappe, Mobile’s alternative weekly, and co-managing editor Rob Holbert play a fairly significant role in the book, and the publication excerpted it, with Holbert arranging a presentation and signing for me in Mobile.

You may read the Lagniappe excerpt by clicking here.

NOLA’s NPR affiliate talks to me on “The Reading Life” and “My Spilt Milk” excerpts the book

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Susan Larson, host of WWNO’s “The Reading Life”

Susan Larson, host of WWNO’s “The Reading Life” and former longtime Times-Picayune books editor (she and I worked together at the paper, but she left in one of the first rounds of buyouts, several years before last year’s saga unfolded), invited me for a chat on the show. You can listen to our conversation at this link (my portion begins at 13:27.) And also check out her revised and updated version of A Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans, released just last month.myspiltmilk

In addition, New Orleans culture and music website My Spilt Milk today published an excerpt from the book, followed by an interview with me. You may read the excerpt here, and the interview here.

NOLA alt-weekly Gambit reviews Hell and High Water

Kevin Allman, editor of New Orleans’ respected alternative weekly Gambit, drove coverage of The Times-Picayune saga, trailing New York TimesGambitLOGO media reporter David Carr by only a few hours in confirming the grim coming changes, in May 2012.

He recently offered his assessment of my book. My favorite quote from his review? “If newspapers are black and white and dead all over, in New Orleans they’re the walking dead, and Theim’s tale of how print still lives will be of interest to New Orleanians and the newspaper industry at large.”

You may read his review by clicking here.

New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde weighs in again on the book

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New Orleans Magazine Associate Publisher and Editor Errol Laborde

New Orleans Magazine Associate Publisher and Editor Errol Laborde has been generous with his time (while I was writing the book), valuable real estate (in the pages of the magazine) and with his praise (first, a few weeks ago, on “Informed Sources,” the public television show he produces on New Orleans’ WYES-TV, and now on the magazine’s blog).

Sometimes a person is just having a routine day at the office, going through the usual motions, perhaps thinking of what to get for supper, and then BAM! something happens that suddenly bounces a life in a new direction.

That happened last year to Rebecca Theim a former reporter for The Times-Picayune (1988- ’94) who has most recently been living and working in Las Vegas. When she heard about The T-P being reduced to thrice weekly and about the accompanying layoffs, she was outraged. Being separated by distance she could have easily been justified for doing nothing, instead she got into action. She founded a group that raised money to divide among the terminated employees. She also uncorked her reporting skills and began following the story as a journalist.

One day when media historians study what the Newhouses did to journalism, Theim (pronounced “theme”) will be an important source, perhaps the most important. Now we are seeing the results of her work … The publication is an excellent, at times riveting, bit of reporting put together in an amazingly short time.

– Errol Laborde’s Oct. 7 column on MyNewOrleans.com, the blog of New Orleans Magazine

You may read the rest of Errol’s column by clicking here.

First review of the book, in Louisiana’s The Advocate

The Advocate, the former Baton Rouge newspaper acquired by New Orleans billionaire AdvocateAppIconJohn Georges, who has continued its fledgling expansion into New Orleans in a big way, is a supporting character in my book, and by anyone’s admission, far from an objective observer in the New Orleans media landscape. That’s no doubt why the daily newspaper went to Andrew Burstein, LSU’s Charles B. Manship Professor of History, and commissioned him to review my book.

Burstein, a noted Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson scholar, tells me in an email that, “My main attachment to Louisiana politics and culture is of the era when Thomas Jefferson was weighing the strategic significance of the Mississippi River. I could read your book with objectivity because I had no idea who any of the players were, many of whom now work at the Advocate.”

“Rebecca Theim, who worked for the paper from 1988 to 1994 and now lives in Las Vegas, narrates the story of the paper’s demise with clear compassion and in journalistic detail — while wielding a pen as mighty as any sword … This is a book with attitude.”

LSU historian Andrew Burstein’s review of
Hell and High Water

You may read the remainder of the review by clicking here.