Friday, February 26, 2016

In pursuit of Hillary Clinton with 'The Girls in the Van'

Originally posted on AP.org

“The Girls in the Van,” Associated Press journalist Beth J. Harpaz’s celebrated account of Hillary Clinton’s successful run for a U.S. Senate seat from New York in 2000, is back with new insights as her second fight for the Democratic presidential nomination intensifies.

First published in 2001, “The Girls in the Van” has been reissued as an e-book by AP and Diversion Books. It’s a remix of the original, with some passages dropped, a new opening chapter added and certain events given a context sharpened by time as Harpaz brings along readers in the press van that followed the former first lady from Buffalo to Brooklyn.

Then as now, questions about her authenticity, her marriage to former President Bill Clinton and an array of thorny issues have shadowed her chances.

“The Girls in the Van” was titled with a nod to a classic of politics and media, “The Boys on the Bus,” Timothy Crouse’s chronicle of the race that pitted President Richard M. Nixon against Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., in 1972, when the candidates, their handlers and the reporters were all men.
Some things in “The Girls in the Van” will seem “terribly dated to today’s readers,” Harpaz writes. “The book was written just as old media was giving way to new media, when the daily deadlines of newspapers and TV broadcasts were replaced by the 24-hour cycle of cable news and the Internet. In the year 2000, we marveled that anyone could read email on a cellphone. We thought it was overkill to get a mere 12 emails a day (!!) from the campaign. We needed satellite equipment to send a photo to our offices ... As such, the book is a snapshot in time.”
“On the other hand,” Harpaz adds, “I believe my portrait of Hillary Clinton has withstood the test of time. She started out the Senate campaign as a buttoned-up, standoffish first lady who once insisted that the press be escorted out of a fundraiser while she ate. She didn’t take questions from reporters, she didn’t rub shoulders with the public; the Queen of England was more accessible than Hillary Clinton. That changed as the campaign wore on, and by the end, she thought nothing of standing in the middle of Grand Central, literally allowing herself to be engulfed by fans.”
“Beth offers a look back into Hillary Clinton’s history that feels notably familiar to those of us charged with covering her today,” AP national political writer Lisa Lerer writes in a new foreword. “Beth follows her on grueling campaign swings, traces her struggles to connect with voters and valiantly tries to analyze the back-and-forth of a never-ending stream of political outrage.”
Lerer adds: “Yes, the scandals have been updated: Emails and paid speeches, not parades and pardons, are the controversies of the day. A $300 million family foundation has replaced a White House intern as her most pernicious personal baggage …  And though technology has profoundly remade media and politics, so much about the experience of covering her hasn’t changed. The clashes with a strategically unhelpful campaign staff. The notably female press corps endlessly scrutinized for bias.  And the intense outpouring of emotion -- be it love or hate -- that Hillary seems to spark across the political spectrum.”
The new e-book is available from a number of outlets. A photo of Harpaz and a cover image are available on request.     

To learn about other AP books, visit our website.
About AP
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the Web: www.ap.org

Contact
Paul Colford 
Vice President & Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press
212.621.1895

Lauren Easton
Media Relations Manager
212.621.7005

Monday, January 11, 2016

AP reporter's memoir recalls civil rights struggle and 'My Time with the Kings'

Originally posted on AP.org

Former AP journalist Kathryn Johnson was a groundbreaking civil rights reporter, the only journalist Coretta Scott King invited into her home the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. In a new memoir, Johnson recounts her private moments with the Kings, and adds firsthand insights to the historical record of the tumultuous era.

Published this week by AP and RosettaBooks, the memoir is called “My Time with the Kings,” subtitled “A Reporter’s Recollections of Martin, Coretta and the Civil Rights Movement.”

“Whenever anything was happening, Kathryn seemed to be there,” Andrew Young, a close aide to King who went on to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, writes in the book’s introduction.

Johnson, one of the few female reporters on the civil rights beat, says she first covered King in 1960, “at news conferences, sit-ins and demonstrations, when he was a young, fairly unknown Baptist minister.”

In the years that followed, she became close with King; his wife, Coretta, and other key figures in the leader's circle. As she describes the scene at the King home in Atlanta after the slaying in Memphis, a policeman on the porch said no reporters were being allowed inside. But when the door opened so someone could leave, Mrs. King saw her outside and told the officer, “Let Kathryn in.” 

They sat together in her bedroom watching TV reports of the killing and reruns of King’s orations, the widow “tight-lipped and misty-eyed,” until their silence was punctuated by a call from President Lyndon Johnson.

“I’ve no idea what Coretta was thinking that night, though I’ve often been asked,” Kathryn Johnson writes. “If I had to guess, it would be about her devastating loss, about how she and her four children were going to get along, or perhaps how she would carry on her husband’s remarkable legacy.”

Johnson is now 88 and still lives in Atlanta. “My Time with the Kings” features previously unpublished photographs from Johnson’s personal collection, original news wire transmissions from the AP Corporate Archives and the transcript of an oral history in which the author discussed her nearly 20 years of reporting for AP. 

“My Time with the Kings” is available in a paperback edition and as an e-book.

A new interactive experience includes excerpts from the book, AP photos and clips from Johnson’s oral history. 

About AP 
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the Web: www.ap.org.

Contact 
Paul Colford 
Vice President and Director of Media Relations 
The Associated Press 
212.621.1895 

Lauren Easton 
Media Relations Manager 
The Associated Press 
212.621.7005