With textured analysis and an instinct for salient details, Todd emulates her pioneering heroines to offer multidimensional examples of the revolutionary contributions women of this era made to journalism.
These stories make for high adventure ... Todd writes clearly, entertainingly, and, most of all honestly. Journalists covered in Sensational would approve ... The final chapters of Sensational include the author’s failed effort to discern the identity of Chicago’s mysterious 'Girl Reporter' and information on the later careers of the book’s main characters. It also has annotation, illustrations, and a bibliography.
Sensational encompasses the intersection of newspaper wars, the campaign for women’s rights and the growing concern over the exploitation of labor. Ms. Todd interweaves these themes into her close focus on newspaper archives. Rather than emphasize one woman at a time, however, she takes a chronological approach—not entirely successfully, making it difficult to keep the stunt reporters apart as they don their disguises and dive into squalor ... Ms. Todd’s resurrection of these courageous reporters is fascinating because the women and their stories are so vibrant. With acerbic wit, the author also makes a larger point. In the 1960s, Tom Wolfe challenged established journalistic conventions when he told his stories in scenes, with ample dialogue, colorful details and a distinct point of view. George Plimpton trained with the Detroit Lions. Hunter S. Thompson hung out with the Hells Angels. At colleges across the country, MFA programs began offering degrees in 'creative nonfiction.' But it was the male muckrakers who are credited as the progenitors of gritty, detailed narratives told in the first person. Ms. Todd makes a good case that more credit is due to those early 'girl stunt reporters.'