New Novel Tackles Corruption, Journalism And The Law

Jun 13, 2013

Cover of Jon Buchan's book, 'Code of the Forest'

South Carolina lawyer Jon Buchan is fond of saying that all journalists and attorneys have at least one good novel in them. He's been mulling his for years, but he's finally finished and published it. "Code of the Forest" tells the story of a scrappy newspaper, trying to survive an onslaught by a senator determined to silence it. It examines the subtle underpinnings of corruption.

Buchan says that corruption, as he portrays it in his book, is a much more subtle form of influence. One that might infect a politician before they realize it's too late.

"The key is... politics after all is a culture of favors," he said. "Even at its best and purest, it's a culture of trading and favors."

That creates slippery ground for politicians to walk on and can lead them to step over the line.

Buchan drew upon his experience as a reporter at the Charlotte Observer, as well as his current career as a first amendment lawyer, to construct the story.

Buchan is worried about the future of newspapers, but he is encouraged that papers like Raleigh's News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer continue to focus on their primary missions.

"I think both of those papers...have kept the core of their reporting staff," he said. "The key investigative watchdog reporters. Those folks are still there. It's easy to say that these papers aren't what they used to be. But at their core, look at the prizes they're winning..."