Part 1: Ida Tarbell — the sharp, powerful arrow of her words (part 1) Part 2: Ida Tarbell: Madame Roland, Napoleon, and Abraham Lincoln (part 2) Ida Tarbell developed her life as an independent thinker and writer. She asserted her right to be and think in whatever way she saw fit, and she did not conform to […]
The thrillers of Jack Higgins, the rise of Dorothy Thompson, plus some March literary madness: newsletter, March 6, 2020
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,602) on Friday, March 6, 2020. The tornados that roared through Nashville and Middle Tennessee earlier this week left death and destruction in their wake and broke more than a few hearts — one of them being mine. I grew up in east Nashville […]
When Robert Caro began his reporting career for Newsday in New York, an editor gave him a key piece of advice. Caro was working on his first big investigative story and going through lots of files. The editor’s advice: “Turn every page.” Caro took that advice to heart, and now he is one of the […]
It’s been almost two decades now (really? that long!), and the impeachment of Bill Clinton still rubs up against raw feelings on the part of Clinton’s supporters and opponents. And even if you don’t have feelings about it that were generated at the time (maybe you weren’t old enough to really remember), you should list […]
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 […]
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 […]
Courtroom sketch artists are people who can draw (or paint) quickly, accurately depicting what they see and unafraid to allow others — maybe millions of others — to see what they have done. They work under seemingly impossible deadlines, sometimes only a few minutes, at best a few hours. There’s very little chance of editing or […]
My Lai. If you know anything at all about the war in Vietnam, you know this word. It was the village where more than 100 unarmed civilians were killed by American soldiers during a 1968 offensive. The word has taken on literal and symbolic meaning. We might not know the word at all if it […]
If you were a news photographer in the 20th century, you probably wanted to be like David Douglas Duncan — courageous, fearless, adventurous, and constantly seeing what others don’t see. Duncan died this past week at the age of 102. His legacy of photography — particularly combat photography — is unmatched. Here’s part of what […]
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 […]
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, […]
The copy desk saved me — more than once. In old-times newspaper terms, the copy desk in a newspaper’s newsroom was a horseshoe shaped table around which sat a number of editors who read what reporters wrote. On the other side of the table in the “slot” was the chief copy editor who handed out […]
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 […]
Fifty years ago when the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded, politics — not merit — kept Harrison Salisbury from winning the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. This week’s announcement (see below) of the latest prizes brings this sad tale to mind. Salisbury was a reporter and editor for the New York Times who already had […]
For the past several years I have been asked (and honored to be asked) to provide some items for the silent auction for the Front Page Follies, the annual musical production of the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists. So, here are this year’s offerings: The first is a watercolor that was posted on Facebook […]
A journalist needs something to write about: Richard Ben Cramer, Alex Rodriguez and the book that did not get written
In 2006 Cramer sold both his publisher and his subject on a book about Alex Rodriguez, the star of the New York Yankees who was recently banned for a year by Major League Baseball for taking banned substances. The book had the title, The Importance of Being Alex: A Life with the Yankees. He had […]
Reporting is hard work. It is frustrating and difficult. Reporters are constantly called upon to use their wit and imagination, to think of where information is and who has it — and then to persuade those who have it to give it up. Reporters do not have subpoena power. They cannot compel sources to part […]
Reporters depend not only on the First Amendment freedom to publish but also the implied First Amendment freedom to gather the news. Issues surrounding how reporters work — and the legal and quasi-legal obstacles they encounter — are covered by an organization called the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Check out this organization’s […]
Chapter 8 in Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How emphasizes how difficult it is to be a reporter. That’s certainly true. But it’s also fun.
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, […]
Verse and Vision
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