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'Page-A1' provides perspective to

journalism

Clifford Anthony's novel sees the world through the eyes of a rookie reporter

By Eric Bonzar

October 11, 2012

Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism," a sentiment echoed by Lorain County Community College professor Clifford Anthony in his first published novel “Page-A1.”

Anthony’s 25 years of journalism experience working with the Sun newspapers and The News-Herald in the United States, his work with various newspapers in Mumbai, India and his time spent teaching at Cleveland State, Lorain County Community College and John Carroll University helps give his readers an inside perspective of the world of print media.

Anthony’s book, set in 2008, follows closely the career of fictional reporter Jack Stefancic. Stefancic is a rookie reporter who balances the struggles of low wages and low standards while maintaining his integrity as an honest and unbiased journalist. This is something Anthony says has been the scrutiny of journalism in recent years, due most in part to a select few journalists and because of media itself.

“There is a lot of misconception especially after Jayson Blair of the New York Times,” Anthony said. “The whole journalism field took a hit. I was hurt, because I know I work hard, and I know a lot of other journalists who work hard to make a difference.”

Anthony said Blair’s 2003 plagiarism scandal that rocked the world of print journalism was the catalyst for his book and Stefancic’s character, whom Anthony refers to as “many composite figures, not just one person.”

“I felt I had to inform people that there are a lot of dedicated journalists who put in more than 40 or 50 hours without being paid overtime, and they’re not being recognized,” Anthony said.

Stefancic’s character is not only faced with his own struggles as a journalist, but also those of the newspaper he writes for, The Crazewood Journal.

As Stefancic climbs the ranks as a political reporter, he becomes exposed to the world of media agendas and union politics, which Anthony believes is still a problem today.

“Most major newspapers have newspaper guilds, and a lot of reporters and copy editors are members of the guild,” Anthony said. “Big newspapers have unions, and unions traditionally support democrats. Like it or not, those are the facts.”

Striking while the iron is hot, "Page-A1" delves into media bias during election season. Following the trail of mayoral candidates Borak O’Drama and Juan McPain, Stefancic learns prominence and relationships drive news stories more than the journalists reporting.

These characters are literary constructions based on Barack Obama and John McCain.

“Journalists must walk a fine line between political coverage and party loyalty,” Anthony said. “I’m not saying Republicans are right, or Democrats are right. I’m saying you should present both sides, and let your readers decide.”

Although serious in its topics of ethics and morals, “Page-A1” also provides its readers with a lighthearted, humoristic take on Stefancic’s journey — something Anthony says was instrumental to helping get his message out.

“I thought the only way to bring this to attention was to write a fictional book, because there are many non-fiction books out there that discuss journalism and topics such as ethics,” Anthony said. “That way, I would have some liberty to be able to play with it and also be able to add humor to the topic.”