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America’s first female police officer, Dan Jenkins, lots of emails, and a modest proposal: newsletter, March 22, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,866) on Friday, March 22, 2019.   The tractor came out of the barn and had a pretty good workout this week. We had a string of dry days that allowed me — finally! — to get into the garden with some much-needed sub-soiling and […]

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MillerHall1

The college admissions scandal: a modest proposal

What has practically every story you’ve read or heard during the last couple of weeks about the college admissions scandal had in common? The journalists and commentators have consistently used the terms elite colleges or elite universities. They have done without any critical assessment of the terms themselves, and therein lies a problem — possibly The Problem. We […]

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DanJenkins

Dan Jenkins, 1928-2019, RIP

Back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, if you had a sacred cow — particularly if it had to do with sports or anything connected — Dan Jenkins would come along and push it over. And make you laugh while he was doing it. Jenkins was one of an elite group of sportswriters who worked […]

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Josephine Herrick: her World War II legacy for veterans continues today

When it comes to paying a lasting tribute to veterans, few people can match the work of Josephine Herrick. Herrick was a professional photographer in the 1930s and 40s with a successful studio in New York City when the United States went to war in 1941. She organized a group of 35 fellow-photographers to take […]

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Bret Harte’s big newspaper scoop

Before he became famous for his wild tales of the then New West, Bret Harte was a journalist and had broken one of the biggest stories of the era in pre-Civil War California. Born in 1836 in Albany, New York, Harte moved to California with his family when he was a teenager. He worked at […]

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Facebook’s public image deteriorates as more of its private actions come to light

After a scathing two-part documentary by Public Broadcasting Service’s Frontline in October (The Facebook Dilemma, discussed in a JPROF.com post a couple of weeks ago), Facebook’s reputation as an idealist company that wants to change the world and do go continues to deteriorate. Here’s the lead paragraph from a New York Times story (Facebook Used […]

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by Charles Turner, after  James Gillray, mezzotint, published 1819 (circa 1800)

James Gillray: puncturing the pompous with caricature

Caricature is fairly common today (even amateurs like me try their hand at it), but in the late 18th century, it was a newly developing form of art, as well as social and political communication. And no one was better at it — a set a higher standard for others of his and those who […]

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GKChesterton

G.K. Chesterton: Everything about him was big, including his ‘colossal genius’

In so many ways, Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton (1874-1936) was an enormous man. — Physically, he was massive: 6 feet 4 inches tall, he weighed more than 250 pounds. He had a shock of hair that on many days looked like it had exploded out of the right side of his head. — His writing production almost […]

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highhand

Jury trials: a thing of the past?

You’re accused of a crime. You didn’t do it. The prosecutor is aggressive; she says there’s ample evidence to convict you. You and your attorney go over the evidence. He says there are procedural errors in the way the evidence has been acquired, and all in all, he doesn’t believe the case is all that […]

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Buried Truths podcast: a very American story, unfortunately

If you were an African-American in the 1940s and you wanted to participate in state and local politics, rural Georgia was not a kind or forgiving place. In fact, it could be very dangerous. That’s the story told by Hank Klibanoff, a journalist and now faculty member at Emory University in Atlanta, in the Buried […]

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Good journalism saves lives

Good journalism saves lives. In this Age of Hyperbole, that’s no exaggeration. A couple of weeks ago in the newsletter, I mentioned John Carreyrou, investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and the book he has written title Bad Blood. The book tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes. the wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her […]

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JohnCarreyrou

American Fire and Bad Blood: two excellent pieces of journalism

Good journalism is hard to do — I have said this many times — and when I find some, I tend to pay some attention. A couple of examples of excellent long-form journalism that I have come across lately are American Fire by Monica Hesse and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. American Fire: Love, Arson […]

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Point Spread by Jim Stovall

‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and […]

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typewriter-cup

Raymond Chandler and the development of the ‘private eye’; newsletter, Jan. 12, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,500) on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Special note: If you have unsubscribed to this list previously, I apologize for this email. I had some problems with the list over the past couple of weeks — due mainly to my incompetence — and some unsubscribers may have […]

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Lillian Ross

Lillian Ross, reporter and precursor of the 1960s New Journalism movement

Was she the mother of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s — the movement that showcased the deep reporting of people like Truman Capote and Gay Talese? Many people thought so. Lillian Ross, who died Sept. 20, 2017, at the age of 99, was doing that kind of reporting and writing for the New […]

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Margaret Fuller, watercolor by Jim Stovall © 2017

Margaret Fuller packed more than a lifetime into her 40 short years

What I mean by the Muse is that unimpeded clearness of the intuitive powers, which a perfectly truthful adherence to every admonition of the higher instincts would bring to a finely organized human being. It may appear as prophecy or as poesy. … and should these faculties have free play, I believe they will open new, […]

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TheNewspaperMan

The Newspaperman: A poem from the 1880s

In doing some research in 19th century newspapers recently, I found this clever little poem: THE NEWSPAPER MAN Little they know. or even think, Of the work there is in shedding Ink By the busy wielders of pencil and pen, Generally known as newspaper men. “Jottings,” “In General,” “Spice of Life,” “Variations,” and rumors rife, […]

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Digital Reader blogger tries to get at the real facts about ebook sales

A lot of buzzing and scoffing these days in the world of independent publishing about the “fact” that ebook sales are down. Blogger Nate Hoffelder tries to set the facts — the real facts — about ebook sales straight. Source: Damn the Facts: The “Ebook Sales Are Down” Narrative Must be Maintained at All Costs […]

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Ayres Hall, University of Tennessee, watercolor by Jim Stovall, 5/2016

Swag for the Front Page Follies, 2016, part 3

A watercolor of Ayres Hall on the University of Tennessee campus was one of my contributions to the silent auction for the Front Page Follies  last year, and a couple of people told me they bid on it unsuccessfully. Well, this year they get another shot. This is a watercolor of the big building at the top of […]

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Francis P. Church

Yes, Virginia: the world’s most beloved editorial

Here’s the story of a little girl’s letter that sparked an editorial that become eternal: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

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