September 4, 2020

Janet Malcolm On Learning To Be a Witness

From the New York Review of Books: Janet Malcolm writes about the assistance Sam Chwat gave her in preparing for her appearance in the famous retrial of Masson v. Malcolm. She says in part: 

The transformation had two parts. The first was the erasure of the New Yorker image of the writer as a person who does not go around showing off how great and special he or she is. No! A trial jury is like an audience at a play that wants to be entertained. Witnesses, like stage actors, have to play to that audience if their performances are to be convincing. At the first trial I had been scarcely aware of the jury. When Morgan questioned me, I responded to him alone. Sam Chwat immediately corrected my misconception of whom to address: the jury, only the jury. As Morgan had been using me to communicate to the jury, I would need to learn how to use him to do the same.

Link to the Supreme Court ruling here.  

More about the litigation in the selected bibliography below.

Kathy Roberts Forde, How Masson v. New Yorker Has Shaped the Legal Landscape of Narrative Journalism 10 Journal of Communication Law and Policy 101 (2010).

Kathy Roberts Forde, Literary Journalism on Trial (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008).

Judith Haydel, Masson v. New Yorker Magazine (1991),

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