Newsday Names ‘Dying Words’ One of Year’s Best Books

Newsday book critic Tom Beer put our most recent title on his list of best books about journalism. Here’s what he wrote…

DYING WORDS: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times, by Samuel G. Freedman with Kerry Donahue. This book, along with a companion documentary on Public Radio Exchange, remembers the Times reporter whose own AIDS diagnosis led to his groundbreaking and sometimes deeply personal coverage of the disease in the early 1990s. (CUNY Journalism Press, $20)

Here’s Tom’s full list.

‘Dying Words’ Event on Upper West Side

Sam Freedman and Kerry Donahue, creators of our book “Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times,” and the accompanying audio documentary, will appear to talk about the book at 7 pm on Dec 8 at the Book Culture store on West 112th St between Amsterdam and Broadway. And things are in the works for Berkeley, Miami, and other major metro areas. The book is getting great reviews, and the audio doc is playing on dozens of radio stations around the country. You can hear it here, with intros either by Rachel Maddow or Brooke Gladstone.

Sam Freedman talks about ‘Dying Words’

Our esteemed author, Samuel G. Freedman, has a nice article at Columbia Journalism Review talking about how he came to write — and we came to publish — his new book “Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times.” One of the many powerful sentences in this CJR piece:

Jeff burned for the Times to cover gay people and issues in a way that wasn’t exotic or judgmental, and he knew the newsroom politics well enough to recognize that such change would not happen easily. Young, straight, sympathetic reporters like me were Jeff’s stealthy emissaries. After all, these were the days when official Times style forbade using the word “gay” except as part of a direct quote. The only acceptable term otherwise was “homosexual,” so chilly and clinical and alien.  (Indeed, the headline on my story was “Pride and Joy at Homosexual Parade.”) I was just beginning to grasp the fear that many gay and lesbian journalists on the Times felt, a force that kept many in the closet and compelled several into paper marriages for the sake of their careers.

Book Party for ‘Dying Words’

CUNY Journalism Press is throwing a party 6-8 p.m. on Monday Nov. 30 for the launch of our new book ‘Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times.’ The party will be held at the CUNY Graduate School of JouSchmalzBookCover_SMrnalism, 219 West 40th Street, in Midtown Manhattan. Come meet the authors, Samuel G. Freedman and Kerry Donahue, along with journalists and activists from the LGBTQ community.

The book tells the story of Jeff Schmalz, the young Times reporter and editor in the 1980s who was outed by AIDS, and then went on to courageously report on AIDS and gay culture. His work helped changed the attitude toward gay people at the Times and in other newsrooms across America. RSVP to

Reading and book party for ‘Dying Words’

Samuel G. Freedman and Kerry Donahue, co-authors of our new title, “Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed the New York Times,” will give a book talk and signing in New York — at Book Culture, on West 112th in Morningside Heights at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Donahue has produced an hour-long audio documentary companion to the book, and so far more than 100 NPR stations across American have scheduled it to run over the next few weeks. For more information and to buy the book, go here, and for review copies, and invitations to other parties, contact us at

‘Dying Words’ Available Now

The new book on news coverage of AIDS in the 1980s and ’90s, :Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed the New York Times,” is now available from CUNY Journalism Press. The book’s official publication date is Dec. 1 — World AIDS Day — but you can order an advance copy now — paperback, ebook or a combination — here.

The books looks back at the short but remakable career of Jeff Schmalz, a Times editor and reporter who was closeted to his bosses at the Times until he was outed when he collapsed with AIDS in the newsroom in 1990. He returned to launch a memorable reporting campaign looking at gay culture and AIDS before he died in 1993. Along the way, he transformed the attitudes and coverage of the Times, now a strong voice for gay rights, and in other newsrooms as well. For more information.

Pre-Publication Raves for ‘Dying Words’

The Forward’s John Oswald has penned a story about our upcoming title ‘Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed the New York Times.” Oswald interviews one of the co-authors, Samuel G. Freedman, and offers a peek into the book itself, which offers a fascinating look back at that extraordinary time in America — and in newsrooms — in the 1980s and 1990s when AIDS decimated the gay community at the same time that gay culture began to emerge as never before. Read The Forward’s story here. And pre-order the book, due to be published Dec. 1, here.

‘Dying Words’ to Be Published Dec. 1

”Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times,” will be released on December 1 to coincide with World AIDS Day. The multi-media project will be in audio documentary form with a companion book about the groundbreaking journalist who covered the AIDS epidemic as he was dying of the disease.

A collaborative effort led by author, professor and journalist Samuel G. Freedman and radio producer Kerry Donahue, the project will air on radio stations across the country beginning in November and the book will be released by CUNY Journalism Press on December 1.

The audio documentary, produced by Kerry Donahue and edited by Ben Shapiro, will be distributed by PRX to public radio stations around the country and also be available as a podcast. The companion book consists of about 35,000 words of text, including excerpts from Jeff’s work, and will be released as both an original paperback and ebook.

“Jeff Schmalz was a journalistic prodigy,” said producer Kerry Donahue. “He was hired by The New York Times while a college student, running its metropolitan coverage by his mid-20s and regarded as the ‘consummate Timesman. People in the newsroom thought that he we be a top editor one day, not knowing he was struggling with his identity as a gay man. He came out to many friends and peers at the Times, but kept his sexual orientation secret from the newsroom management. Under the executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, the Times newsroom of the 1970s and 80s was a homophobic place, and journalists known to be gay or lesbian were stalled or even demoted in their careers.”

“Jeff was my mentor,” said Samuel Freedman, himself an award-winning journalist and author who currently writes a religion column for The New York Times. “I will never forget the day in December of 1990, when Jeff collapsed in the newsroom with a brain seizure. It was the first evidence that he had full-blown AIDS – a death sentence in these years before drug cocktails were available.

“With AIDS, Jeff was endangered and he was outed,” Freedman continued. “Yet he was also cracked wide open in positive ways. He found his calling in writing about HIV and AIDS, doing memorable portraits of Magic Johnson, Mary Fisher and other, as well as chronicling his own experience reporting on the most personal beat imaginable.”
Schmalz’s work is credited with changing The New York Times coverage of gay issues. The New York Times of today – publishing same-sex wedding announcements, editorializing in favor of marriage equality and covering LGBT issues in more and more depth – is the fruition of changes that Jeff helped set into motion but never lived long enough to fully see. Now, 22 years after he died at age 39, his contributions have been largely forgotten.

“Our hope is that ‘Dying Words’ will restore Jeff’s name and work to the annals of LGBT history and journalistic history,” concluded Freedman.

Both the documentary and the book draw upon extensive interviews, existing recordings by Schmalz, and excerpts from his AIDS coverage. Over the past year, the team interviewed major journalists including Anna Quindlen, Adam Moss, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and Elizabeth Kolbert, as well as the AIDS activist Mary Fisher and the LGBT historian Eric Marcus. In addition, the audio includes original recordings of Schmalz’s interviews with Magic Johnson, Bill Clinton and others. Wendy Schmalz, Jeff’s sister, who is his closest living relative, has worked closely with and supported the efforts of the team.

The book is now available for pre-order here:

Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, and he is the author of the seven acclaimed books. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize and has won the Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism and the National Jewish Book Award.

Kerry Donahue is an experienced radio producer and the director of the radio program at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has been heard on PRI, PRX, NPR, WNYC, WBGO, and Marketplace. A former executive producer at WNYC, Kerry was part of the team that launched The Takeaway with John Hockenberry in 2008 and was the executive producer of “Pop & Politics with Farai Chideya”. She was an early podcast pioneer in her role as a producer of original content at, a subsidiary of Amazon and the leading site for downloadable premium audio content.

For more information go to:

First Openly Gay Congressman Endorses Freedman’s ‘Dying Words’

Samuel G. Freedman’s book Dying Words, an account of the groundbreaking AIDS reporting by New York Times journalist Jeff Schmaltz in the early 1990s, recently received a resounding endorsement from the nation’s first openly gay congressman.

Retired U.S. Congressman and gay rights pioneer Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently endorsed CUNY author Samuel Friedman's book, "Dying Words."

Retired U.S. Congressman and gay rights pioneer Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently endorsed CUNY author Samuel Friedman’s book, “Dying Words.”

Retired U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) offered words of high praise for Freedman’s Dying Words, calling it “an important part of the story of the fight for LGBT equality in America.

“‘The personal is the political’ is usually a meaningless cliché,” Frank added, ‘but in the case of ‘Dying Words’ it is a perfect description of the part the death of reporter Jeff Schmalz played in dispelling the ambivalence in The New York Times coverage of LGBT issues in general, and AIDS in particular.”

The book, subtitled The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times, will be published by CUNY Journalism Press this autumn. Sam Freedman, the author of several renowned nonfiction books, is a longtime award-winning professor at the Columbia Journalism School.

Schmalz, who was a journalistic prodigy at the Times, began his reporting career there before he finished college. He led the way in reporting on the HIV and AIDS crisis affecting the homosexual community in the 1980s and early 1990s at a time when homosexuality was stigmatized, even in the newsroom of the New York Times. Schmalz, who was closeted in the newsroom for much of his career, was outed when he collapsed of AIDS at the Times. He then devoted himself to coverage of AIDS and gay life before he died of AIDS in November of 1993 at the age of 39.

Dying Words chronicles the mark he left on journalism, the nation and the fight for equality, which reverberates to this day.

“(Dying Words) will come as a surprise even to many well-informed readers,” Frank added.

To support “Dying Words,” by donating to the Kickstarter campaign to publish the book and fund an audio documentary, click here.

New cash stipend for LGBT reporting

The success of the Kickstarter to help fund our next CUNY Journalism Press book — on influential NY Times reporter Jeff Schmalz and his AIDS coverage — means that the authors will be able to award a $390 stipend (Jeff Schmalz died in 1993 at age 39) to two students this autumn, one from CUNY and one from Columbia, to help fund a reporting project on LGBT issues. More details to come in September when both schools are back in session.

‘Gay Girl’ Documentary Takes a Page from Our Book

The new Canadian documentary ‘Gay Girl in Damascus,’ which was well received at Sundance earlier this year and is now in theatrical release around the country, tells the strange story of Amina, a rebel activist in Syria whose posts during the Arab Spring made her a social media phenomenon. When she reported that she had been kidnapped and her Twitter feed went silent, the search for her went viral, led by the Canadian girlfriend she had never met in person. The story of what really happened — the story the documentary reports — is told in gripping, thriller-style narrative with all the stunning twists and turns and much more detail in the CUNY Journalism Press title ‘Distant Witness: Social Media, the Arab Spring and a Journalism Revolution.’ Our book, by Andy Carvin, has been hailed as a new-media classic for his descriptions, told in real time, of showing the world how an international story, including rebellion and war, can be covered effectively via social media. See more about the book here.

CUNY Profile Subject Weighs In on Rand Paul, Presidential Race

Republican Presidential Candidate Rand Paul may know the Constitution, but he lacks the fortitude to make it to the White House, claims Legendary Author Nat Hentoff.

The former Village Voice jazz critic and Libertarian who is the subject of CUNY Author David L. Lewis’ book, “The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Nat Hentoff on Journalism, Jazz, and the First Amendment,” recently shared his thoughts on Paul and other 2016 presidential politics in an interview with the conservative website World News

“Though he knows more about the Constitution,” Hentoff says of Paul, “there is something lacking in him, and that’s, to use the language of the street, a certain amount of balls.”

Hentoff criticized Paul’s failed effort to end the much-maligned U.S. Patriot Act, which was ultimately renewed by Congress earlier this year, as well as Paul’s support of President Obama’s efforts to renew diplomatic relationship with Cuba.

“I have friends who have been in Cuban jails for a long time,” Hentoff tells WND,” and they have very little chance of getting out.”

At 90-years-old, Hentoff also addresses his recent health troubles and rumors that he may soon return to writing and political commentary.

For the full story, click here.

David Lewis’ book, “The Pleasures of Being Out of Step,” profiles Hentoff like never before with extensive interviews with Hentoff himself, his allies and rivals, and his unique career in American journalism and activism.

For more on the book, click here.

The Illustrated Courtroom Wins 4 Major Awards

Our book The Illustrated Courtroom, the first ever outsized, full-color collection of important court art from major cases over the past half century, continues to earn national recognition. The eLit Book Awards, an independent organization honoring digital books, has bestowed two gold and two silver medals on the book for four different categories of publishing. It is the first time a single book has ever won four awards, and reflects The Illustrated Courtroom’s cross-appeal at the intersection of art, law and journalism.

The book, compiled by renowned artist Elizabeth Williams from her work and the work of four other famous court illustrators, won gold in the Fine Arts category for its drawings and in the True Crime category for the news coverage, including behind-the-scenes text from Sue Russell, of many of the biggest headline-grabbing cases in U.S. history: Charles Manson, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart, Bernie Madoff and more.

The book won silver medals in the History and Graphics categories. For more on the awards, click here. For more on The Illustrated Courtroom, click here.

National Arts Club Honors ‘Illustrated Courtroom’

“The Illustrated Courtroom” Author Elizabeth Williams joins a revered group of courtroom artists in New York June 9 at an event honoring their crucial role in chronicling courtroom history.

The National Arts Club, located at 15 Gramercy Park S in Manhattan, will host a reception for the artists, celebrating its new exhibit, which showcases some of their work through most of the month of June.

The exhibit titled, “Courtroom Art: Eyewitness for the Public,” will be displayed in the club’s Trask gallery through June 26. It features illustrations from the artists’ most famous trials, including Galella v Onassis (1973), U.S. v Helmsley (1989)U.S. v Marcos (1990), and USA v Shahzad (2010).

In addition to Williams, work from courtroom artists Christine Cornell, Aggie Kenney, Jane Rosenberg, and Richard Tomlinson is featured in the exhibit. Aggie Kenney and Richard Tomlinson also have a number of reproductions of their drawings in the book The Illustrated Courtroom.

Guests can see the exhibit during the club’s normal business hours,  11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday – Friday. The club is closed Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on the event and the exhibit as well as more club calendar events, click here.

The Illustrated Courtroom is regarded as one of the best books published in 2014, according to Kirkus Reviews.

Click here for more information or to purchase a copy.

Barry Newman Speaking Gig June 2

Event: New York Financial Writers’ Association presents an evening with Barry Newman When: Tuesday, June 2nd, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: The Perfect Pint, 123 West 45th Street, New York, NY

Join the New York Financial Writers’ Association for an evening focusing on how to best use anecdotes in stories. 
Barry Newman will discuss ways to turn narrowly focused stories into narrative features for a broad audience of smart readers. Newman wrote for the Wall Street Journal, from the U.S. and abroad, for more than four decades. Most of his stories ran on the Journal’s front page. While he’s known for humor writing, his work dealt in accessible ways with serious subjects: immigration, macroeconomics, agriculture, development, trade, politics and foreign policy, to name a few. He will share some of the techniques he details in a new book, “News to Me,” published by CUNY Journalism Press: As always, the evening will feature light appetizers and NYFWA members’ first two drinks are on us. Guests of the NYFWA are welcome to attend for $15 at the door.

News to Me is available on Amazon

Just in time for the official publication date, Barry Newman’s NEWS TO ME: FINDING AND WRITING COLORFUL FEATURE STORIES is available for sale on Amazon. Barry has been doing a lot of speaking and media interviews recently, including at the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference, and would be happy to speak to your group. Check out Barry’s own website, which includes a good — and, typically, wry — video trailer for the book.

UK Press Gazette Loves ‘News to Me’

The Press Gazette, a leading British publication covering the news business worldwide, has given a rave to NEWS TO ME: FINDING AND WRITING COLORFUL FEATURE STORIES, our new book by Barry Newman, the longtime Wall Street Journal “King of the A-Hed.” Read the article here, where Barry, whom the Press Gazette describes as a “writing superhero,” ascribes the secret to good short writing for newspapers, magazines and websites to “long reporting.” You can also check out Barry’s typically informative yet amusing video book trailer here.

Barry Newman’s new book is available

CUNY Journalism Press is proud to publish News to Me: Finding and Writing Colorful Feature Stories, the new collection of stories and essays by Barry Newman, widely known  as the “King of the A-Hed” for his many front-page feature stories in the Wall Street Journal over the past four decades. Barry Newman’s new book takes readers behind the scenes — how did he get that story? — and offers a charming and sometimes curmudgeonly mix of instruction and inspiration for anyone who writes, studies writing or teaches writing — and especially anyone who wants to find, report and publish the kind of stories that get people talking. The book’s official publication date is May 7, 2015, but advance copies have begun shipping, and you can order yours now.