Book review: Kneading Journalism is not ’empty calories’

Kneading Journalism is a book with an off-beat angle (mixing bread and journalism), but one that seems to be resonating with some discerning readers and reviews looking for more than empty or hollow content.

After earning such positive reviews from blogs including Rosie’s Book Review Team, part of me worried it would be hard to catch lightning in a bottle, but then it struck again!

In many ways, Ganzer’s essays serve as lessons in demystifying the Fourth Estate, this is not big, splashy journalism. There are harrowing moments, but Ganzer is hardly writing a war correspondent’s memoir […] Meditation and reflection fuel this collection, not adrenaline.

Jenni deBie, reviewer for Rosie Amber’s book blog

In an unexpected turn, another one of the reviewers for Rosie Amber’s blog also gave Kneading Journalism a look, and produced another insightful exploration of what I tried to do in the essays.

Warm and wholesome as any well baked loaf, Kneading Journalism is more than just good reading, it is nourishment for the mind in a time when many of us, myself included, want desperately more than empty calories.

Jenni deBie, reviewer for Rosie Amber’s book blog

I encourage you to read the whole review, and if you pick up a copy yourself please consider leaving a review on Goodreads or your site of choice.

This first year of being a published author has been a learning experience. I’m thankful that we’re building a small but mighty group of discerning readers and thinkers to tackle journalism and bread, head-on.

Kneading Journalism featured by Rosie’s Book Review Team

Once Kneading Journalism made its way into the world, I didn’t know what may come, especially with a formal book review.

Despite the book’s unique premise, I’ve had pretty positive responses from both readers with some bread or journalism knowledge, and others with none. Getting the book in front of reviewers poses a challenge, however. The unique premise doesn’t fit into the box of romance or fantasy or crime or any of the other genres which have large followings of readers and reviewers.

So I’ve tried to seek out people with an open mind; people who seem willing to give Kneading Journalism a fair chance. And Rosie’s Book Review Crew definitely fit that bill.

Thoughtful and fair

Rosie Amber has a community of readers built to provide just the kind of thoughtful verdict I was hoping for with Kneading Journalism.

One reader — Just Olga is her blog — dove into the book and seemed to right away understand the core purpose of these essays: demystify journalism, provide some personal context and reflection, and throw in some bread.

This is a deeply personal and passionate book, one born of deep thought and reflection, and beautifully and compellingly written […] I recommend this short book to readers interested in journalism, its evolution, and its connection with society, and also to anybody who loves baking and bread. I look forward to reading more books by this author and discovering where he is going next.

Excerpt from Olga’s review

If you want to have a steady stream of book reviews from a thoughtful and engaged community, I do encourage you to check out Rosie Amber, Olga, and so many others.

I’m thankful to have been given a chance to share this project with such discerning readers, and I hope others will be inspired to give Kneading Journalism a chance!

Irresponsible Reader tackles Kneading Journalism

Submitting my book to a reviewer whose blog is called “The Irresponsible Reader” may seem a curious choice. But scanning H.C. Newton’s approach to reviews gave me some sense that Kneading Journalism would get a fair shake.

The thoughtfulness in this review and in the questions from a Q&A are truly a gift.

I’m incredibly grateful for H.C. Newton’s care in the approach to this review which I think makes a case that the “irresponsible reader” takes the craft of reviewing seriously, with the end product being discerning and fair.

My mixture of bread and journalism (what I was most unsure about in creating the book) went over well, eliciting about the best reaction to the book I could ever hope for:

I spent time afterward thinking about the individual essays as well as the book as a whole. Both in terms of the content of the essays as well as in how to apply and evaluate what I read/watch.

H.C. Newton

One of his other observations is something I’ve thought about with this book project, on readership and visibility. Of course I’ve published the essays in multiple formats. Of course I have tried to get the word out about it. But there’s no guarantee that Kneading Journalism will reach everyone who might benefit from its approach.

I’m afraid this isn’t going to find the readership it deserves—but I hope it does find readers that the message resonates with and that they can at least spread the ideas and carry them into their own lives and media consumption. It’s something all Americans need to think about before it’s too late.

H.C. Newton

I’m thankful for H.C. to have given me and Kneading Journalism a fair hearing. Through this project, I am trying to contribute something positive to the dialogue around journalism, and hope it reaches the discerning readers and bakers who can use it.

I do encourage you to read the review on H.C.’s website, and check it out if you’re in the market for smart book reviews!

Kneading Journalism Egypt excerpt in Current

Incredibly thankful to Current: News for Public Media and its digital editor Mike Janssen for publishing an adapted excerpt and recipe from Kneading Journalism. As some of my readers will know, Current is the main trade publication for US public media news…and now sometimes bread recipes.

Mike suggested adapting my essay on my reporting trip to Egypt to introduce the book to readers, and I gladly accepted. Some of these anecdotes I’ve told friends and colleagues over the years, and being able to put them in the book (and now Current) is a treat.

Out of the tightly layered rows of dusty buildings from Cairo’s core, the Great Pyramid of Giza springs from the desert like the wonder it is. Driving southwest of my hotel near Tahrir Square — the site of the 2011 demonstrations and heart of the revolution — Hamed and I found ourselves at the gates of the Sphinx and pyramids that hold mythic significance for Egypt, the world, and for Hamed personally.

This trip in February 2012 took place during a still turbulent period after the ouster of long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak. Hamed worked as an intervention specialist in Zurich: kind of a mix between a social worker and goodwill ambassador for social services. I met him while reporting a story on homelessness in Zurich for Swiss public radio and managed to earn his trust to learn more of his personal story. (“You have honest eyes,” Hamed told me.) Over an evening of open conversation and a careful ride-along with Hamed and his colleague, I ultimately earned an invite to join him on a visit to a still evolving post-revolutionary reality of his hometown. I would create a series of reports acting as a profile of Hamed, while also providing a snapshot of Egypt’s tenuous political situation.

Part of an excerpt of Kneading Journalism for

Check out Current for the full adaptation, and consider watching one of my older baking videos if you want to hear the stories as I bake Egyptian Fino Bread!

As I noted in a post about “the hustle” seen in Cairo, the city was an amazing place, and I was fortunate to briefly visit and report from there. It was a very foreign environment for me, but most of my interactions were greatly positive.

“As surreal, and as special as that adventure was, I still draw from those memories in my current life in Cleveland, and will likely do so for the rest of my days,” I wrote. “Sometimes I wish I didn’t see so many connections between Cairo-in-flux and an American city.  But I hope reflecting on, and savoring, my past experiences help make for a more enriched present and future.”

Kneading Journalism in South Carolina’s Statehouse Report

It’s a bit of good news to anchor this short update, with Kneading Journalism finding mention in the Statehouse Report, a premier source of political news and commentary in South Carolina.

Editor and publisher Andy Brack blends thoughts from a few sources—including my book—to try to call us away from the extremes in our politics and media. It’s a relatively quick read with some food for thought on a Saturday!

Part of this national political disconnect among the people is due to an increasing cynicism by many about the media, which exists to report truths about those in power and to tell stories to connect us.  But as the media diversified thanks to the Internet and traditional outlets got smaller, unsavory publishers – and some governments – worked to spread disinformation and misinformation, all of which are straining the American democratic process. 

“Information can breathe insight into a populace hungry for life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness, and this supports the idea of information being a source of power,” writes longtime Ohio journalist Tony Ganzer in a new book, Kneading Journalism.  

“[But] the direct manipulation of information, and a press which might distribute it, is thus a way to foster distrust and quell tools of accountability.”

Andy Brack in the article “Practice moderation to strengthen democracy”

Thanks to Andy for finding Kneading Journalism worthy of sharing with readers. Please check out Andy’s work in the Statehouse Report and the Charleston City Paper!

Reflection on life and Kneading Journalism

It’s been a long while since my last newsletter update, and I’m sorry about that. What follows is a bit of a reflection and update on me, including about my short book of essays.

Life is strange in how we’re faced with highs and lows which can simultaneously focus our attention and but also distract us; lose us in “multi-tasking” and self-reflection alike. As I worked through the PTSD of the car crash in 2020, I started to really do a wellness check on myself. Am I in a position thrive, or just get by? Not every day is a winner, but am I feeling more positive than negative?

Continue reading “Reflection on life and Kneading Journalism”

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