About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.
Author Archive | Jim Stovall

What’s wrong with TV news?

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has given the 24-hour cable news channels just what they need – lots of pictures and storylines to follow. But the story has also exposed the weaknesses of cable news, and Jack Shafer, media critic for Slate.com, has taken the opportunity to make a list of some of the things […]

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Daily Egyptian hoax

Just a few minutes on the telephone — that’s all it would have taken in 2003 on the part of a reporter for the Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University, to save himself hours of work and some major professional embarrassment for himself and his colleagues two years later. The student newspaper […]

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Ben Franklin, printer

Because of several recent excellent biographies and a PBS series, America is being re-educated about the most remarkable of all the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. The man was many things during his long life: inventor, scientist, civic innovator, diplomat. What he wanted to be known as, however, was “printer.” His Apology for Printers, written in […]

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John Roberts, grammarian

He may be a conservative ideologue or a moderate (or even a liberal!) in right-wing clothing, but U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has been outed as grammarian. An article in the New York Times this week (In Re Grammar, Roberts’s Stance is Crystal Clear) says that after a review of thousands of pages of […]

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The Digital Divide still lives

Going rural more than likely means going dial-up. That’s what Steven Levy, technology columnist for Newsweek magazine, found this summer when he took some time off in the Berkshires. (I found the same thing when I retreated to the farm in East Tennessee.) High speed Internet access was not available, and that’s a problem — […]

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Off again, on again

The general manager of the public radio station in Lexington, Ky., caused a minor flap late last week by announcing that he was pulling Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac off WUKY. Tom Godell expressed some dismay at the language that was cropping up in some of the poems that Keillor had read on the program and […]

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Changing context: Burn, baby, burn!

The 1960s seem to be always with us. Rarely do you hear or see a television ad that doesn’t have some sixties rock hit as its theme or background music. Now there’s going to be a hot sauce that uses a phrase that was anything but benign in that decade: Burn, baby, burn. For those […]

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Invisible writing

One of the best mystery novelists around today is William G. Tapply, creator of the Brady Coyne mystery series. Tapply’s novels live up to the cover blurbs — well-formed characters, tightly woven plots and elegant writing. Tapply practices what many of us who teach writing often preach, and he gives voice to some of those […]

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Expensive misspelling

Tell your students (as you undoubtedly do) that they need to spell correctly and that they should check their spelling. Not doing so can turn out to be an expensive proposition. That’s what the folks in Livermore, Calif., found out in 2004 when they spent $40,000 for a mosaic for their new library. The artwork […]

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John H. Johnson

John H. Johnson. The nation lost one of its media pioneers on Monday, Aug. 8, 2005, with the death of John H. Johnson. He was the Chicago entrepaneur and publisher who recognized that blacks aspired to be better off and have more — and that they were gaining the ability to pay for it. His […]

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Contracting the First Amendment

One of the ideas this JPROF.com advocates — in addition to good journalism and good journalistic practices — is expanding the First Amendment. Unfortunately, there are too many people and organizations trying to do just the opposite. A recent example comes from a judge in Washington state who thinks that controlling campaign finances is more […]

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Newspaper of the future

The New York Times devoted a great deal of space in its business section last month to a profile of the newspaper in Lawrence, Kan. The paper is devoting many resources to building an innovative set of web sites — innovation that is a part of the newspaper’s history and tradition. The Times article provoked […]

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Communities of interest

The ideal sounds great: a group of people who share an interest in a topic are able to exchange information and ideas about it over the internet. Time and geography are overcome. Such communities of interest would be informative, respectful and self-regulating. That was what I described in Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a […]

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New images of the Scopes trial

The trial of high school teacher John Scopes in Dayton, Tenn., 80 years ago this month remains one of the 20th century’s iconic events. It drew vast media attention and pitted cultural forces against one another that are still at war today. This week, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Scopes trial, the […]

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Sixth edition in print

The sixth edition of Writing for the Mass Media is now in print and available for fall adoptions. This edition contains much of the same material and exercises found in previous editions, but there are a few new features: a completely rewritten chapter on writing for the web, updated examples and exercises, a glossary, and […]

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Clearing his Deep Throat

Word comes today that the secret to one of the great politico-journalistic mysteries has been revealed: the identity of Deep Throat. It was Mark Felt, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the Nixon administration. This is an important revelation, and not just to those of us who have followed the Watergate story […]

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A high school journalist, undercover

McSwane is a senior at Arvada West High School in Colorado. He had heard that the Army was having trouble recruiting because of the increasing unpopularity of the war in Iraq, and he had seen recruiters at his high school. It occurred to him to test out how far the recruiters would go to get […]

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Another review for Web Journalism

My friend and colleague Herb Thompson (a great American) has done it again. He has written another very nice review of one of my books, Web Journalism. This one appears on SecondaryEnglish.com, a web site geared for teachers of high school English. (Herb had also written a review of Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why […]

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The Numbers Guy

Numbers are funny things — especially for journalists. They sound so definite and authoritative. Numbers represent facts in a seemingly indisputable way. They are easy to use and easy to understand. But numbers should always be checked for context and source. One journalist who regularly examines the source and context of numbers is Carl Bailik, […]

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Women as news sources

Women do not make it into news stories as sources as much as men do. That is the basic finding of a new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The basic finding is probably not surprising, but what is impressive and important is how widespread […]

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