Jessica Yellin’s first book, Savage News, explores the cutthroat world of journalism in our nation’s capital. The title character is Natalie Savage, a young television reporter whose dream of getting the plum assignment as a network’s White House correspondent is overshadowed by the game show-like competition that pits her against a doofus male reporter, much to the delight of her peers and network bigwigs alike.
As a young girl raised by her father to revere the news as well as those who report it, Natalie’s commitment to investigative journalism and solid reporting is undermined by the ratings-driven network heads, including a newly appointed chief who views statistics as superior to facts. As Natalie struggles with how much to engage in games and stunts in order to gain viewers at the expense of old-fashioned reporting, she stumbles on a big story that could make or break her career.
With the ubiquity of social media, the 24 hour news cycle and other challenges the 5 to 7 p.m. news just isn’t what it used to be. To “break” stories one must be willing to take risks. Yellin examines the various threats faced by journalists at this period in history through the lens of her heroine Natalie Savage as well as her supporting cast of characters. I particularly loved her female videographer, who had worked frequently in war zones and was uniquely fearless.
A former CNN correspondent, Yellin provides a fabulous peek into the world of those who cover the news out of the fire hose of DC, and also offers an interesting critique of traditional network journalism at this point in time.
Her voice is both strong and unique, and her perspective really has a modern feel to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I also really enjoy her Instagram, which the author now uses to cover the news in a compelling way.