Journalism, Sources and Access
A frequent critique of myself or the book I’ve read online in recent days – usually by people who haven’t read it – is that the book wasn’t authorized by the band, or that I didn’t interview the band members. My lack of access wasn’t for my lack of trying over the course of three years I was working on the book.
There is a long and illustrious tradition in journalism and history – regardless of medium – of writing a story without the participation or authorization of its subject. David McCullough didn’t interview John Adams. Ian Kershaw didn’t have access to Adolf Hitler. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein didn’t sit around waiting for permission from Richard Nixon to do their reporting on Watergate. Does lack of access or approval from the subject demean the quality of their work? Absolutely not. It can make the job more difficult, but not impossible. In some cases, lack of access might even make the work better.
Case in point: Gay Talese’s 1966 masterpiece “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.”
Beyond the issue of access to the band and reliance on other sources, I should also point out that the band members have been public figures for more than twenty-five years. There is a long historical record of comments that they have made in the media going back to their earliest days as a band. I went through many interviews over the course of the band’s career and cited several in the course of my work – many times in the actual words of the band members themselves. In short, they have ample opportunity to speak for themselves in my book.
Having said all of that, I will let the book speak for itself.
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