Underwood, Doug 1948- (Douglas Mark Underwood)

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Underwood, Doug 1948- (Douglas Mark Underwood)


Born January 16, 1948, in Easton, PA; son of Raymond Preston (an attorney and state attorney general) and Mary Elizabeth (a children's book writer) Underwood; married M. Susanne Kromberg (a hospital chaplain and spiritual director), September 7, 1997; children: Marika Lael, Alida Elizabeth. Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1970; Ohio State University, M.A., 1974; also attended Earlham College. Religion: Society of Friends (Quakers).


Home—Seattle, WA. Office—Department of Communication, University of Washington, Box 353740, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail—[email protected]


Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Washington, DC, volunteer in Cincinnati, OH, 1971-73; Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI, local government and labor reporter, 1974-76; Gannett News Service, Washington, DC, congressional correspondent, 1976-81; Seattle Times, Seattle, WA, chief political reporter and capital bureau chief based in Olympia, 1981-87; University of Washington, Seattle, director of Legislative Intern Reporting Program, 1976-2001, associate professor of communication, 1987—.


International Association for Literary Journalism Studies.


Sports Story of the Year award, Michigan Associated Press, 1975; C.B. Blethen Memorial Award for Distinguished Northwest Journalism, Seattle Times and Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association, 1982; distinguished book award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2003, for From Yahweh to Yahoo! The Religious Roots of the Secular Press.


When MBAs Rule the Newsroom: How the Marketers and Managers Are Reshaping Today's Media, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

From Yahweh to Yahoo! The Religious Roots of the Secular Press, University of Illinois Press (Champaign, IL), 2002.


Doug Underwood told CA: "My books have grown out of the issues and concerns that I encountered while a professional writer, combined with the opportunities I have had to do research about them while in academia. My primary aim has been to examine the role that religion and literature have played in the reform and investigative tradition of journalism and the threats to that tradition by the developments in modern media business practices. My books have combined the use of journalistic writing and research methods with empirical studies in a way that I hope is accessible to both a scholarly and a general audience.

"During my own journalism career I was a political and investigative reporter, and my interest in these subjects comes directly from my own professional experiences working for major media companies. My first book, When MBAs Rule the Newsroom: How the Marketers and Managers Are Reshaping Today's Media, grew out of a cover story for the Columbia Journalism Review that probed the manner in which news organizations were ‘breaking down the wall’ between the news and business departments and implementing marketing and financial management programs in the newsroom. My concerns about the contemporary media marketing movement—and the threat it presents to journalist autonomy and the role of the press as an instrument of reform and a watchdog on powerful institutions—has been a central feature of my research. The book included a survey of 429 newspaper journalists, which showed that they also were concerned about the impact of bottom-line policies upon the presentation of the news and upon their professional lives.

"My second book, From Yahweh to Yahoo! The Religious Roots of the Secular Press, expanded upon these themes by examining the nature of the reform mission in journalism and its connection to religious idealism and the nation's moral and religious heritage. This book grew out of a year of study at a Quaker seminary, the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana, where I explored the ways in which my Quaker heritage has contributed to my attraction to journalism as a place to make a difference in the world. The book traced the influence on the press of the biblical prophets' complaints about moral corruption and social inequity, the calls for reform rising out of the Protestant Reformation, and the biblical principles that drove the muckraking and social gospel campaigns of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book contained a nationwide survey of journalists in which they were asked about their moral, ethical, and religious beliefs and how they believe these may have influenced their professional values.

"Since the book's publication, I have continued to examine the role of religion in the practices of the press, the often formulaic coverage of religion in the press, and the difficult issues that the modern ‘culture wars,’ increased religious pluralism within the country, and global-religious developments present for the press. My recent manuscript, Hacks of Genius: The Great Journalistic Personalities as Fiction Writers and Their Impact upon the Literary Canon [not yet published], extends my interest in these subjects into the field of literature. The book examines the great journalist-literary figures as fiction writers and their impact upon the literary canon. The manuscript focuses upon novelists, poets, and playwrights who started out as journalists and examines in historical detail the role that journalism has played in the development of the literary tradition in the United States and Great Britain. The scope is comprehensive; it begins with the earliest journalists-turned-novelists (Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Fielding) and analyzes the phenomenon up to the so-called ‘new journalism’ movement of today (Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe). A key theme in the book is my contention that journalists should lay claim to the importance of their profession in the evolution of the literary canon; that many journalist-literary figures shouldn't be excluded from the ranks of the ‘great writers’ simply because they wrote for a popular audience; and that the trends of post-modernism in academic scholarship work against writers operating in the plain-spoken tradition of journalism. I also stress in the book the irony that, despite journalism's pretensions to being a truth-teller's profession, so many great writers have felt the need to move from journalism into fiction in order to tell the larger ‘truths’ of life. My research in this area includes examinations of the major journalist-literary figures' views on religion and how it is reflected in their writings, their involvement in reform and social justice movements, and their unhappy experiences with newsroom management systems that tried to limit what they could write. It also includes another nationwide survey of newspaper journalists that asked them about their literary ambitions and how the tradition of literary journalism and the writings of the major journalist-literary figures have influenced them.

"I am also in the preliminary stages of updating the material that went into When MBAs Rule the Newsroom by examining the trends that are continuing to shape the media and the professional lives' of journalists, including blogging and online journalism, decreased circulation and audience for newspaper in print and over-the-airwaves television stations, the financial struggles of traditional media companies, growing media consolidation, and more aggressive efforts on the part of government to go after journalists' sources. As part of this effort, I have embarked upon a nationwide survey of local television journalists asking them about what they feel is the impact upon society and their own psyches of the increased focus of television news upon coverage of crime and violence."