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David Douglas Duncan, the photographer every photojournalist aspired to be

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 […]

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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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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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Another passing: the NYT copy desk

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 […]

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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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Harrison Salisbury, pen and ink by Jim Stovall © 2017

50 years ago, Harrison Salisbury did not win the Pulitzer Prize

  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 […]

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Bridge to Sophie's; Cumberland Ave.

Swag for SPJ’s Front Page Follies

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 […]

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Richard Ben Cramer

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 […]

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Tennessee Journalism Series: Media Reporting

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 […]

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Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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 […]

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Do reporters have more fun?

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.

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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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First reporting assignment: a preview story

It’s the first week of class in your reporting class. Your students are bright and eager — and they don’t have a clue about what they are supposed to do. You want to get them into the field quickly, but you’re afraid (rightly so) to unleash them on an unsuspecting campus. The solution: a preview […]

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The center of gravity has shifted

The web has pretty much rendered obsolete the adage that says you should never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the ton. Today there is less fear and frustration with the news media on the part of those outside the profession, and there is more willingness […]

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Bonds hoisted on his own Louisville slugger?

It would be a reporter’s dream: Barry Bonds answering questions under oath — with two reporters in the room. That could be one of the outcomes of the suit that San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds has filed against Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who have written a book about Bonds’ […]

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Gay Talese, a reporter’s life

For decades now, readers and critics have focused on Gay Talese’s writing style. In the 1960s he was a pioneer of the New Journalsim, which used fictional and literary techniques to tell his nonfiction stories. But what readers should have been focusing on was his reporting, which is meticulous, exacting and precise. Talese, according to […]

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David Halberstam, reporter

Most of all, I think, he demonstrated that a reporter who does his job can make a difference.

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Kiffen pre-presser video – last century’s journalism

The YouTube video above shows the eight minutes of controversy surrounding Bud Ford, the news reporters, and Lane Kiffen’s lack of cooperation with reporters in dispensing information about his resignation as Tennessee’s football coach last week. The video has been racing around the web (more than 175,000 views as of this morning), and lots of […]

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The demise of newspapers means better journalism

We who contemplate the importance of journalism look at the future with trepidation. What happens to journalism, we ask, when newspapers continue on their inevitable decline? The question assumes that journalism itself will be diminished.I am coming to a different conclusion: Journalism will improve once newspapers die or decline to a minor medium. Note that […]

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A good take on being a reporter

Reporting is where journalism begins. Without reporting — gather facts, information, and views and putting all those together — journalism doesn’t exist. So we owe a deep debt to those who spend their lives doing the tough job of reporting. Deborah Howell, ombudsman for the Washington Post, has a good take on what it takes […]

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