Assigned Reading: Sue Robinson

Sue Robinson, Helen Franklin Firstbrook Professor of Journalism

Sue Robinson knew she wanted to be a journalist since “fifth grade, or maybe even earlier,” when she interviewed the boys in her class about their thoughts on women’s rights. Before joining the UW–Madison faculty, she was a business, technology, agriculture, and seafood writer for a dozen years.

Now she teaches journalism studies, qualitative methods, news reporting, multimedia and social media, literary journalism, and other classes. She also explores how journalism has adopted new communication technologies to report on public affairs, as well as how the public can use these technologies for civic engagement. She considers questions such as who gets left out of this storytelling and why, and how the use of new-media technologies changes the ways we learn about and interact with each other.

“It’s powerful work — whether we’re talking about the teaching-journalism part of my job or the research on public discourse — and I feel honored I get to do it,” she says.

My assigned reading includes:

The 2017 Go Big Read book, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, but also a ton of classics — from Joan Didion to Earnest Hemingway to W.E.B Du Bois to Sonia Nazario and
Truman Capote — for my literary journalism class this fall.

At the moment, I’m reading:

A History of American Literary Journalism: The Emergence of a Modern Narrative Form, since I am teaching Literary Journalism for the first time this fall. It’s not the … errrr … most engrossing book, but it will be useful for my lectures.

One thing that everyone needs to read is:

Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson or The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, to understand why disparities continue to exist in our country.

Periodicals, publications, and blogs I enjoy include:

Well, I am a journalism professor, so I read a lot of news stuff, both local and national, especially Washington Post, New York Times, Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison Magazine, and Isthmus. I admit to watching CNN and MSNBC and FOX, against my better judgment. Online, it’s a lot of links from people’s Facebook and Twitter, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, etc. I have a secret passion for cooking, so I find myself reading some cooking sites and Cooking Light magazine. (It’s secret because I rarely get to cook and bake the way I would like to these days.)

I like to reread:

If I could, I’d love to reread some of the classics I read in high school, because I think I’d get a lot more out of them than I did then — like The Catcher in the Rye or Wuthering Heights.

Some favorite pieces I’ve been working on have been:

I am just finishing my first book, called Networked News, Racial Divides: How Power & Privilege Shape Public Discourse in Progressive Communities. It is due out later this year with Cambridge University Press. One piece that [assistant professor] Katy Culver and I published recently was called, “When White Reporters Cover Race: News Media, Objectivity, and Community (Dis)Trust.” That got some people talking, and that is always a satisfying thing.