Archives: journalism

Johann Amos Comenius, founding father of modern education

June 25, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, journalism education.

The name of Johann Amos Comenius rarely echoes through the halls of modern academe, but his ideas about how we should educate ourselves remain alive, and his influence continues. For instance, the American educational system of kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high school levels is an idea that originated with Comenius. His influence runs far • Read More »

Caroline Norton and the first challenge to the male dominance of English law

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

“I exist and I suffer; but the law denies my existence.” Caroline Norton, who wrote this dynamite sentence, knew the power of the pen. Indeed, she lived in a time when it was her only weapon, and she used it well. Doing so brought her a measure of personal satisfaction, but it also changed the • Read More »

The libel trial of Theodore Roosevelt

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Imagine a libel trial featuring an ex-president as the defendant and a future president testifying on his behalf. That happened in 1915, more than six years after Theodore Roosevelt had left the office that he loved more than any other. He spent most of his energy, which was considerable, and his waking hours trying to • Read More »

David Simon: life on the mean streets of Baltimore and the fading power of journalism

June 12, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: fiction, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

In 1983, David Simon had finished at the University of Maryland and was trying to make it onto the metro staff of a big city newspaper. He was stringing—writing as a freelancer—for the Baltimore Sun, covering stories around College Park and the UM campus. Simon had cut his teeth as a student journalist on The • Read More »

The Theology of Work

June 11, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

A University of California-Berkeley sociologist contends that work is replacing religion as the thing that gives structure to our thinking and meaning to our lives. This is especially true, she contends, in a place like Silicon Valley where work takes up almost every waking hour and provides a pseudo-religious context—such as, “We’re going to change • Read More »

Truckin’ bees across the country

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Most people encounter honeybees through pictures of bees buzzing around flower blooms or possibly driving through the countryside and seeing hives in the middle of a field. More and more, people can see bees in urban areas, often atop tall buildings. But bees on tractor-trailer trucks rolling down an interstate highway? That is exactly where • Read More »

The mean streets of Baltimore, the theology of work, June giveaways, and truckin’ bees: newsletter, June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, journalists, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,241) on Friday, June 10, 2022. What if Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare? Seriously, what if there was evidence that William Shakespeare was not the author of Hamlet or MacBeth or Richard III or Henry V or any of the other plays that we attribute to • Read More »

Belle de Costa Greene, the extraordinary life of the Morgan Museum’s librarian

June 4, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

By any measure, Belle de Costa Greene lived an extraordinary life for a librarian. During the first two decades of the 20th century, she reigned as an undisputed leader and expert in the area of art and antiquities. She was instrumental in acquiring, organizing, and cataloguing what became the world’s finest private collection of rare • Read More »

The modernity of the crossword puzzle

May 28, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Word games have been with us since the advent of words themselves, but one of the most popular of all word games, the crossword puzzle, is a relatively recent invention. We have only had crossword puzzles for about 100 years. We owe the modern crossword puzzle to a man named Arthur Wynne, who was an • Read More »

The pitch-perfect prose of Roger Angell, the modernity of crossword puzzles, and the last chance for this month’s group giveawaysnewsletter, May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, books, history, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,421) on Friday, May 27, 2022. What do you think a librarian does? The answer to that question undoubtedly depends on your point of view, but I think most of us would believe a librarian is someone who keeps books and documents in a particular • Read More »

Roger Angell, pitch-perfect prose about the game and meaning of baseball

May 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

When Roger Angell wrote about baseball, which he did frequently but not often enough, he could put you in the seat next to him in the ballpark. It would be a good seat, not in the press box with all of the sportswriting swells and television hotshots, but right down there in the stands among • Read More »

Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones: one told the truth, the other did not

May 21, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

The contrast between Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones is stark and ultimately tragic. Duranty was the correspondent for the New York Times and covered the Soviet Union and the rise of Joseph Stalin for more than a dozen years in the 1920s and 1930s. He interviewed Stalin a number of times and always wrote favorable • Read More »

Walking, seeing, learning

May 14, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

If you are like me—a person who loves to walk—you won’t want to miss Chris Arnade’s website,Walking the World. The author brilliantly describes his love for walking just about anywhere in the world he happens to be. He talks about how much he sees, how much he experiences, and how much he learns by simply • Read More »

The myths and realities of free speech on campus

May 1, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: freedom of speech, journalism.

A professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has taken on the notion, depicted in article after article in major media outlets, that there is a “free speech” crisis and ensuing turmoil roiling American college campuses. In a recent article on Slate.com, Lucas Mann, a professor of English and journalism, points out that most of • Read More »

The strange disappearance of the man who took the first motion picture, Louis Le Prince

April 30, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

The identity of the person who “invented” motion pictures, in the sense that we know them today, has always been a matter of dispute—even though Thomas Edison has made the claim and owned the patent. Like many modern inventions (the airplane, the radio, etc.), cinema has many founders. In reality, Edison may be the least • Read More »

Manly Wade Wellman, the author with many occupations and many genres

April 16, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, writers, writing.

Many authors, if not most, have a second or third job that produces income and helps support themselves and their families while they are writing. Few authors, however, can claim as many different jobs and professions over as long a period of time as Manly Wade Wellman. During his 83-year life, Wellman was a harvest • Read More »

Mozart’s transcription genius: did he really do it?

March 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Gregorio Allegri’s (1582-1652) setting of Psalm 51, Miserere Mei, is a choral work of unsurpassed beauty and delicacy that the Catholic Church commissioned in the 1630s for exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel. It was played only once a year sometime during the Easter season. Writing it down or performing it without authorization could get • Read More »

Black Hawk and the first published Native American autobiography

March 26, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writing.

We naturally associate the name of Black Hawk with war and fighting (think: Black Hawk helicopter), but the real history of Chief Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk Nation of Native Americans, encompasses not only war but a literary tradition: Black Hawk was the first Native American to have an autobiography published in the • Read More »

Murder Most Criminous (Volume 1): The Ghost of Sergeant Davies (intro)

March 26, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The following is the editors’ introduction and the first few paragraphs to the case “The Ghost of Sergeant Davies” in volume 1 of Murder Most Criminous. Editors’ introduction Witnesses at criminal trials provide a most powerful presence. But what if the witness doesn’t really exist, and yet the court accepts that witness’s testimony? It is • Read More »