Archives: journalism

Shakespeare’s appearance, Eleanor’s mastery, and Cronkite’s broadcast – plus a new book giveaway: newsletter, March 2, 2018

March 5, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | 2 Comments | Filed in: journalism, newsletter, watercolor, writing.

One of the seminal events in America’s long involvement in Vietnam occurred 50 years ago this past week. CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite — often called “the most trusted man in America” — narrated a prime-time documentary that called into question the American government’s rosy predictions about the war’s progress. Cronkite did not come out against the war. Rather, he said:

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Inside the making of a dictionary

March 1, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | 3 Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Dictionaries are marvels of any language. But English has resisted the orderly cataloguing that has been routine for many other tongues. Early lexicographers believed they could impose some necessary order on the language by setting down spellings and definitions and making them permanent. But the language quickly showed them who was boss.

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A portrait of Jackie Kennedy as a teenager, and then a lawsuit; then there’s a new biography

February 28, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism.

A portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy, depicting her as a teenager, has appeared in a Long Island art gallery and has sparked a federal lawsuit brought by some of her relatives. The relatives say it is stolen. The art gallery owner says it is not and that he has doubts that the • Read More »

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Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt: Masters of radio

February 27, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | 1 Comment | Filed in: history, journalism.

By their ninth year in the White House, the Roosevelts had become masters of the medium of radio. Franklin had a soft but strong modulating voice. His was a natural. He sounded like your favorite uncle: serious, cheerful, informed and confident. Eleanor, as usual, had to work harder and longer. She did that and became an important voice for the American people.

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Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

February 15, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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The world’s most nutritious foods: relax, you’re probably eating some of them

February 15, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

I don’t usually venture into the realms of food and its preparation (above my pay grade, I am told), but I thought this was interesting. On the British Broadcasting Corporation site a couple of weeks ago was a listing of the 100 most nutritious foods based on research done by scientists and compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The listing • Read More »

The purpose of great literature: to make people comfortable

February 14, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, journalism.

That’s what school officials in Duluth, Minnesota (and a few other places, unfortunately) would have you believe. The school system in Duluth is the latest to remove To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the required reading list for ninth graders. The reason they give: the language used in these books • Read More »

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Leonardo’s journals; eyewitness to the biggest event of the first century; football art and the First Amendment; newsletter Feb. 9, 2018

February 12, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, newsletter, writing.

Cades Cove Sunday morning - 1

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,317) on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Hi,  This has been The Week of Interesting Things for me. Most of my weeks could take that moniker, but this one seemed especially full. I try to put a lot of interesting things I find into the newsletter, but I • Read More »

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Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem – Brain Pickings

February 9, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writing.

Maria Popova, the brain behind BrainPickings.com — a newsletter you should subscribe to — has written another tribute to the ideas of the late science fiction novelist, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin, as Popova points out, has important things to say about the function of storytelling. Here is part of it: “People wish to be • Read More »

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Jim’s newsletter: Under the hood

February 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, newsletter.

My assumption about newsletter readers is that they are intelligent individuals, they are readers of good books, and they people who can handle the occasional challenge of learning something new. 

Most of all, my assumption about newsletter readers is that they are my friends, even though I have not met all of them personally.

Leonardo’s journals: A large window into the mind of a genius

February 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | 1 Comment | Filed in: history, journalism, writers, writing.

Leonardo's drawings of cats

The mind of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) still fascinates observers even after 500 years. He was interested in so many things, and he observed the world with the mind and attitude of a scientist, mechanic, inventor, naturalist, and philosopher. He was also a writer. And an artist, of course. We know about Leonardo’s mind because • Read More »

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Eyewitness to Vesuvius: Pliny the Younger and reporting the event of the century

February 6, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, reporting, writing.

Pliny the Younger

The mountain exploded in August 79 AD. The ensuing lava flow engulfed two entire cities (Herculaneum and Pompeii) and smothered a third, Stabiae, with poisonous gas. The darkness that the clouds of dust and smoke created was, in the ones of an eyewitness, “. . . not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.”

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Pliny the Younger: a top-notch Roman journalist, Part 1: An insight into the early Christian community

January 31, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | 1 Comment | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger is never listed as a journalist, but he should be. This extraordinary Roman (he lived from 61 to about 113 A.D.) was a lawyer, politician, author, poet, and government official whose stated goal was to be famous and to be remembered. He was, indeed, all of those things. We would remember Pliny • Read More »

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The passing of writer Ursula K. Le Guin sparks an important reconsideration of her work

January 30, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Whatever she was, she had a special talent for keeping readers in her grip, for making them see what they had never seen before, and for making them think about what she had written long after they had finished reading.

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A pointed, provocative post: Why You Should Stop Reading News by Shane Parrish

January 29, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, news.

girl reading

Parrish wisely makes the distinction between “news creators” and “journalists.” News creators simply want to gain your attention and hold it for as long as possible. He doesn’t spell it out, but I assume that in his view journalists report information that adds value to your life.

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The ‘private eye’ in literature begins with the real-life character of Eugene Francois Vidocq

January 25, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: fiction, history, journalism, Private eye, writing.

The place to look for the origins of the literary private eye is in 19th century France with the character of Eugene Francois Vidocq.

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