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

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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Red light and green light ethics

Most discussions of journalistic ethics, according to a recent article by Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute, stem from an examination of the mistakes that journalists have made. These discussions are likely to result in what he calls �red light ethics� – rules that tell the journalist to stop, be cautious, be careful, and […]

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NYT to begin charging

The New York Times announced this week that in September it would begin charging for part of its website content. While much of the NYTimes.com site would remain free to registered users, the Times will begin offering its columnists and opinion section to viewers for $49.95 a year. Subscribers to this service, TimesSelect, will also […]

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Mitch Albom’s ‘essentially accurate’ standard

Abraham Lincoln began the Gettysburg Address with the words, “About a century ago, the dudes that started it all . . .” Well, ok. Those weren’t exactly the words, but they are “essentially accurate.” That’s the standard that Detroit Free Press sportswriter Mitch Albom imposed upon himself in handling direct quotations for his column. Apparently, […]

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The question of deception

When the Spokane Spokesman-Review recently exposed nefarious behavior on the part of Spokane’s mayor, the newspaper used some deception in its reporting. The reaction of many editors would lead you to believe that “Thou shalt never deceive” is one of the most sacred of Journalist Commandments. But it’s not. Deception isn’t always a good idea, […]

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Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation and Dicton exam

When I taught at the University of Alabama, I would give a 100-question grammar, spelling, punctuation and diction exam to beginning writing students. The test was a difficult one, but students had to make at least a 75 on the exam to pass the beginning writing course offered by the College of Communication and Information […]

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Web Journalism goes Chinese

Word came yesterday from publisher Allyn and Bacon that Web Journalism: Practice and Promise of a New Medium will be published in Chinese. The book has been in print for about a year and a half now and has been adopted as a text by more than 40 colleges and universities around the country. The […]

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Ethical lapses

This spring has seen a spate of ethical lapses by journalists, so it might not be evident that our ethical standards have actually gone up during the past 20 years. Yet, this is probably the case. More Read more about journalism and issues facing the profession at JPROF.com.

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More on women opinion writers

Mike Peterson, educational services director of the Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., responded to JPROF’s earlier posting concerning the dearth of women opinion writers and why women may be less comfortable than men in slinging their opinions around. He makes several good points worth considering and has a word of criticism about Maureen Dowd’s logic. […]

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Not enough women opinion writers

There aren’t enough women opinion writers — or at least not enough of them make it onto the pages of America’s newspapers. That’s the issue, not what Susan Estrich thinks about Michael Kinsley or how he has responded to her, entertaining as all that might be. That dustup between a couple of high-profile Harvard grads […]

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A simple rule

A picture ought to show what the camera and photographer saw. It’s the essence of truth-telling. It’s the basis of journalism. Yet, it’s happened again. A prominent photo has been found to be a lie. It isn’t what the camera or the photographer saw. It was changed beyond recognition, tampered with, made into a “photo […]

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Dan Rather, reporter

Dan Rather has ended 24 years in the anchor’s chair at CBS News, a remarkable fact in a couple of ways. When Rather succeeded Walter Cronkite, there were more than a few office pools on how long he could last. Few people were as respected by the public as Cronkite, and the fiesty and passionate […]

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Who is a journalist?

The question of who is a journalist is one of the stickier wickets in the whole question of establishing a shield law for journalists. Telling a journalist from a non-journalist used to be a simple matter (or so it seemed). A journalist was a person employed by a media organization such as a newspaper or […]

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Attacking wordiness

Most of the editing students I have taught over the last three decades share this trait: they are reluctant to change anything in an editing exercise, even when it is obviously wrong. Getting them to where they will correct grammar, spelling and style errors in the first step. But to be good editors, of course, […]

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Remembering “Andy” White

Roger Angell is familiar to many of us as the writer of some great books about baseball. He writes with insight and grace, and for those of us who love the game, he had always increased our pleasure. His day job is that he is a writer for the New Yorker magazine. He is also […]

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Nice notice for Web Journalism

Journalism and Mass Communication Educator has given Web Journalism a very nice review. The review describes various parts of the book and says Because of these core concentrations, this book is likely to assist students in their journalism careers well after they graduate no matter how much technologies and software continue to evolve. The book […]

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Students and the First Amendment

A flurry of news reports — a good bit of hand-wringing — have appeared in the last couple of days about a new survey that shows that many high school students do not have much knowledge or regard for the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. A third of the students said the First Amendment […]

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Guiding the student photojournalist

Those of us who have advised students publications or web sites know the type: the young man or woman who wants to take pictures. Often there is no one who joins the staff who is more enthusiastic or who expresses more willingness to go to work. The problem is that person has little or no […]

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Permanence and the web

Permanence is one of the five most important characteristics of the web (the other four being capacity, immediacy, flexibility, and interactivity), as explained in chapter 1 of Web Journalism. Until now. it has not been the subject of much discussion. But a high-level conference on blogging and journalism at Harvard University last week has spurred […]

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