Archives: journalism

The ‘private eye,’ in the beginning: Dashiell Hammett

December 27, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Private eye, writers, writing.

Dashiell Hammett knew what a private detective should be. He knew because he had been one, and he had been taught by the very best. Born in Maryland in 1894, Hammett had failed at most everything he tried in the first two decades of his life. Intelligent, tall, and handsome, he did not finish school, • Read More »

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A ‘day’ becomes a ‘date’; Poe’s rules for detective fiction; a little bit of Henry Fowler

December 11, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, newsletter, Private eye.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,140) on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Hi,  Last week’s question: Were there no Americans before 1776? An answer came in from newsletter reader and good friend Jane P: There were many Americans long before 1776, in the numerous Native American societies and groups across what became the • Read More »

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Jean Ritchie: 60-plus years of contributions to American music and culture

November 29, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists.

If you play the dulcimer, you owe Jean Ritchie a debt of thanks. If you have heard a dulcimer, seen one — or even know what one is, Jean Ritchie is the person responsible. Ritchie died in 2015 at the age of 92 (her birthday is Dec. 8, 1922), and she is known to many • Read More »

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Anne Bradstreet, Puritan wife and mother and America’s first published poet

November 22, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists.

Nay Masculines, you have thus taxt us long, But she, though dead, will vindicate our wrong, Let such as say our Sex is void of Reason, Know ‘tis a Slander now, but once was Treason. Those lines, written in Massachusetts Bay colony before 1650 and referring to Queen Elizabeth I, are a gentle but firm response • Read More »

Jeannie Rousseau, a diminutive spy and an extraordinary tale of courage

November 17, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | 1 Comment | Filed in: journalism.

She was small, too small to be a danger to anyone.  And she was attractive, a good-time girl, maybe even a little flighty. Plus, she had a talent for getting people, particularly men, to talk to her. Those traits hid her steely courage, creativity, resourcefulness — and, maybe most importantly, a photographic memory. Jeannie Rousseau • Read More »

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Where ideas come from: One author’s journey

October 25, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writing.

James Callan is a fiction writer who was introduced to newsletter readers several weeks ago. He is the author of the Father Frank mysteries, the first of which is Cleansed by Fire, a roaring good adventure with lots of action and interesting characters. Here are a few questions that James was kind enough to answer. • Read More »

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Ulysses Grant: Writing and dying – in public view

October 19, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

His memoir was eagerly awaited by the public while he was still writing it. His death, for several months before it occurred, was tracked almost daily by the newspapers of the time. Both occurred at the same time in the spring and summer of 1885. For more than a century after his death, the presidency • Read More »

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Book of Judith sets forth the story of a strong female character of Biblical times

October 12, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The Book of Judith presents a rollicking good tale of danger, intrigue, suspense and high-stakes consequences. Its strong female protagonist takes on a challenge that her contemporary male counterparts shrink from. It’s too bad that the elders of Protestantism decided that the Book of Judith should be excluded from the canon. Girls and boys alike • Read More »

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

September 28, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, journalists, reporters, reporting, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

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 • Read More »

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Best book of the summer? Readers respond

September 21, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

The subscribers to my newsletter were asked to let me know what their “best book of the summer” was, and here are the responses: Karen: My favorite book this summer was Chasing Someday by Lindzee Armstrong.  It is a story about 4 couples and issues they faced involving fertility issues.  This book is different from the books • Read More »

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

September 12, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, journalists, Women writers and journalists, writers.

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, • Read More »

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September 8 is International Literacy Day

September 10, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, news.

    September 8 is International Literacy Day, designated so by the United Nations. There are still too many people in the world who cannot read, and two-thirds of them are women. This year’s theme is Literacy in a Digital World. “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who • Read More »

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J. K. Rowling on freedom of expression

September 7, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: First Amendment, freedom of speech, journalism.

J.K. Rowling has a point of view: Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable. Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K. It garnered half a million signatures. Just a moment.   I find almost • Read More »

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Forwarding contest winners for August; more free books and giveaways

September 4, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

This newsletter was sent to Jim’s email list (3,422) on Sept. 1, 2017.   I hope you’re looking forward to a great weekend. In the U.S., it’s Labor Day weekend, which marks the semi-official end of summer.   Forwarding contest winners The August newsletter forwarding contest produced four winners, as promised. A beautiful, hand-turned wooden • Read More »

Smithsonian Institution’s name and unusual founding

August 17, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The Smithsonian Institution did not start out as the “nation’s attic.” It began as the storage house for the relics and collections of a British scientist whose connection with the United States is unclear. James Smithson was born in Paris in 1765, the illegitimate son of an English duke. He obtained British citizenship but traveled • Read More »

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The Newspaperman: A poem from the 1880s

August 8, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, journalists, news, newspapers, reporters, reporting.

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, • Read More »

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

May 25, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, journalists, news, reporters, reporting, self publishing.

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 • Read More »

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Revelations by scholastic journalists come by just ‘looking it up’

May 15, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, journalism, news.

“You can look it up.” If you remember anything about baseball in the 1950s (and fewer and fewer of us do), you would remember Casey Stengel’s famous conclusion to almost all of his long soliloquies to surrounding newsmen. Stengel was the manager of the New York Yankees, and his teams won pennant after pennant in • Read More »

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E.B. White on a writer’s responsibility

May 10, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, teaching journalism, writing.

One of the great writers — a true craftsman — of the the 20th century, E.B. White, had this to say on the responsibility that writers have: “A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel • Read More »

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Literary journalism, explained

May 9, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | Comments Off on Literary journalism, explained | Filed in: journalism, writing.

If it is to be literary journalism, the writer must be a journalist, not a fiction writer. That is, the writer cannot make anything up. The facts, descriptions and quotations must be true. They must be things that happened. Sometimes, for the sake of the story, writes create “composite” scenes or characters. If they do so, the writer is obligated to tell the reader that this has happened. Ultimately, however, such fictionalizing is unsatisfactory to the true journalist who is dedicated to the factual presentation of information.

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