by Jordana Cox
University of Massachusetts Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-62534-680-3 | eISBN: 978-1-61376-959-1 | Paper: 978-1-62534-679-7
Library of Congress Classification PN3307.U6
Dewey Decimal Classification 792.022


In 1935, a group of journalists and theater artists embarked on an unusual collaboration. With funds from the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a Depression-era employment initiative established by President Roosevelt’s New Deal, they set out to produce news for the theatrical stage. Over the next four years, the New York–based team created six productions, known as the Living Newspapers. Covering a variety of public issues that included affordable housing, the plight of Dust Bowl farmers, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and labor law, Living Newspaper productions would reach hundreds of thousands of spectators and inspire adaptations across the country.

Staged News interprets the Living Newspaper’s process and repertoire amid journalists’ changing conceptions of their profession. Jordana Cox spotlights marginalized “newsmakers,” particularly Black artists, who challenged the parameters of public knowledge and assumptions surrounding newsworthiness. This timely analysis reveals how a vital theatrical form sprouted from a changing news landscape and reimagined what journalism could do for people seeking democratic change.

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