I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say. – The Boston Globe

What a storyteller. Boston Globe journalist Jack Thomas, who wrote about his impending death a few months ago, made me laugh out loud several times in this touching essay. Very powerful. He was 83. I’ve had the privilege of having spent more than 60 years working for newspapers. There was not a day when it wasn’t a pleasure to go to work. Any doubts I had about newspapering as a career were dissolved on my paper route one Friday night in March 1953. I picked up my bundle of 45 copies of the Record that were tossed from a truck…

Engrossing but difficult to watch: “Man in Cave” documentary on caver Floyd Collins

I’m conflicted. This is a very well done animated documentary, creating visuals that were not part of the original press coverage of Floyd Collins, the caver trapped in Sand Cave in 1925, and the subject of the first media circus, fed by the emerging new medium of radio journalism. The animation adds sight gags and sometimes crude humor, which is juvenile and not particularly funny. This story happened to real people, and I’m uncomfortable their suffering has been turned into entertainment. Yet here I am, watching. (That’s part of the discomfort I feel.) Even though I know how this story…

No, this pie chart does not mean that anyone at CNBC believes the typical 25 year old earns a salary of $100k/y and spends $825/mo on rent

Tell me you didn’t click the link without telling me you didn’t click the link. I don’t watch any TV news and CNBC plays no role in my life, but come on. This post has gotten thousands of likes and generated hundreds of comments, many of them suggesting that CNBC is out of touch for reporting these figures as “typical.” It’s easy to attack the messenger, but it’s really not hard to Google “cnbc budget breakdown of a 25 year old” and click the first link.  This chart, from a profile of a specific person who “brings in $100,000 a…

The Lost Art of Paste-Up

When I started using a word processor as a middle schooler in the early 1980s, I recognized the editing commands “cut” and “paste” as metaphors.  Here’s a short video showing the physical cutting and pasting that was required to arrange paragraphs of text prepare a document for mass production. According to layout rules, you’re not supposed to end a line with just a single word at the end of a paragraph, and you’re not supposed to break up a paragraph so that a single line from that paragraph begins or ends a column.  Note that this editor actually shaves slivers…

Another social media post attacks journalists for doing their jobs — Updated Elijah McClain autopsy

If you’ve been following the sad story of Elijah McClain, a Black man who went into cardiac arrest and died in police custody in a Denver suburb in 2019 (after telling the officers who were arresting them that he was unarmed, that he doesn’t even kill flies, and that he loved them) you might know that Colorado Public Radio and several other news organizations took the local coroner’s office to court in order to gain access to an updated autopsy report that specifies the role played by forceful restraint and the ketamine that was injected into McClain during the incident.…

A Las Vegas public official is held on open murder charge in connection with the killing of an investigative journalist, sheriff says

An elected county official in Las Vegas is being held on a murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of a veteran journalist who had reported on the official’s purported wrongdoing, a sheriff announced Thursday – a case that raises questions about press freedom in America. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the killing of Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, days after the reporter was found stabbed to death outside his home, officials said in a news conference, echoing earlier reports by the newspaper that cited Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. […] “We are ……

Screenshot of Drudge Report headline, "TRUMP CAUGHT HOARDING NATION'S SECRETS"

The Drudge Report is pulling no punches as it covers the Trump document saga

The Drudge Report is pulling no punches as it covers the Trump document saga. Backstory: In 1998, Drudge went public with word that Newsweek was sitting on a story about an intimate relationship between President Clinton and 24-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Hilary Clinton’s defense of her husband, as she appeared at his side and blamed the charges on a “vast right wing conspiracy”; Pres. Clinton’s evasive responses (quibbling over the definition of the word “is” and whether receiving oral sex counts as having sexual relations), his later admission that he lied, his impeachment for perjury, and Lewinsky’s status…

Tales from the Antiquities Theft Task Force

A shot of Kim Kardashian leaning against an Egyptian coffin at the 2018 Met Gala by Landon Nordeman exposes his subject in a flash of light—though perhaps not the subject anyone expected. Out of the thousands upon thousands who saw the shot, one happened to be more interested in the gold coffin than Kim’s (heavenly) body in gold Versace. He had looted the coffin seven years earlier but was never paid for his spoils. And it was now sitting in the Met. Angry and in possession of receipts, he fired off an anonymous email to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to tip…

No, you’re not going crazy – package sizes are shrinking

It’s the inflation you’re not supposed to see. From toilet paper to yogurt and coffee to corn chips, manufacturers are quietly shrinking package sizes without lowering prices. It’s dubbed “shrinkflation,” and it’s accelerating worldwide. […] Bags of Fritos Scoops marked “Party Size” used to be 18 ounces; some are still on sale at a grocery chain in Texas. But almost every other big chain is now advertising “Party Size” Fritos Scoops that are 15.5 ounces — and more expensive. PepsiCo didn’t respond when asked about Fritos. But it did acknowledge the shrinking of Gatorade bottles. The company recently began phasing…

Ambiguous language in journalism: Monkey Pox and Camel Privates

Amazing lead: A veterinarian prescribed antibiotics Monday for a camel that lives behind an Iberville Parish truck stop after a Florida woman told law officers she bit the 600-pound animal’s genitalia after it sat on her when she and her husband entered its enclosure to retrieve their deaf dog. —Yousssef Rddad, The Advocate Note that this lead emphasizes the news — the most recent detail is the fact that the biting victim has received treatment for an incident that occurred earlier. Because journalism emphasizes recent events, this lead properly emphasizes the treatment that followed the incident, but in this long…

Police Say A Lot Of Things

It’s not all cops who lie. Just the bad apples. Not the good apple cops who regularly, actively, loudly denounce the bad apple cops, turning them in and testifying against them, and stopping them from doing bad apple things out there in the field. No, it’s not those *good* cops that I’m complaining about. Just the other kind. Police lie. They, along with prosecutors, lied that seventh-grader Adam Toledo was holding a gun when he was shot dead by a Chicago police officer last month, until the body camera footage released yesterday showed that Toledo’s hands were empty and he was complying with…

Advice for alternate pathways in journalism: re-entering the workforce after taking a break; transitioning to college teaching

A colleague put me in touch with an award-winning TV journalist who took some time off for eldercare, and is now having a rough time re-entering the profession. Here’s the advice I collected, which includes the wisdom of a former student who’s now a TV producer in Houston, and also draws on other sources I use when I teach career readiness classes for English majors.

White antiracist hero: “A hired killer fired a bullet right at Cassius’ chest… just as Cassius was unsheathing his bowie knife, which took the hit and saved his life.”

What a story!   Sharing stories like this (that is, white abolitionists who stood up against whites deeply invested in the racist status quo), is probably something that makes racists annoyed.   Like the various assassination attempts Cassius Marcellus Clay survived, or the time a tour group of 60 proud supporters of the status quo casually toured themselves through the barricaded, armored doors of his abolitionist newspaper and percussively redecorated the interior (and in the process reconfiguring his printing press into a special, non-functioning mode).   The stories of white abolitionists are of course only one part of history; but…

In discord with its own rules, the AP refers to an 18yo mass-shooting suspect as a “teenager,” then follows up with a different tweet describing a “a white gunman in military gear.”

The AP’s own rules say an 18yo is an adult, not a teen. In a light-hearted story about a high school event where some are 17 and some are 18, you could get away with calling them all “teenagers,” but in a serious story, it’s crucial to be consistent. This suspect is a white man. Shortly after the “teenager” tweet, the AP released another tweet referring to “a white gunman in military gear.” It’s only fair for me to acknowledge they seem to be responding to their audience. (Nobody’s perfect, of course, but @AP & lots of us on the…

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Whispers of the Past-Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg

In this short documentary, I voice Herb Morrison, the radio reporter famous for narrating the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg — 85 years ago this month. It was an honor to learn more about this man (born in nearby Scottdale, Pa.) and to interpret his words. Local history can be so fascinating! Herb Morrison, native of Scottdale, PA, witnessed the first air disaster in US history in 1937. While that is part of his life story, that’s not all Morrison did in his life. The story recounts his life and features his memories of the disaster.  

Top Russian News Site Calls Out Putin’s ‘Paranoiac’ War

Journalists at a Kremlin-controlled news website published at least a dozen anti-war articles today — a brave attempt to undermine the propaganda campaign attempting to justify Putin’s unprovoked and immoral acts of violence against the Ukrainian people. The articles were quickly taken down, but you can still read them on the Internet Archive. Internet Archive backup of Lenta.ru for May 9, 2022. One of Russia’s leading news websites, Lenta.ru, briefly posted materials critical of President Vladimir Putin and his government amid a crackdown by the state on independent journalism and media reports slamming Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. About a…

Nellie Bly statue to be unveiled at Pittsburgh airport Thursday

In 1889, Bly became famous for an-around-the-world journey she completed in a world-record 72 days, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure on a steamship from New York. The journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s widely read novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Bly chronicled her travels in a series of articles for the New York World newspaper and ended up writing a book of her own, “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days,” published in 1890. She was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran near present-day Burrell Township in Armstrong County in 1864. Source: Nellie Bly statue to be…

How a billionaires boys’ club came to dominate the public square

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, attacked a publication owned by the world’s third-richest man, Jeff Bezos, last month for reprinting a column published by the world’s 13th-richest man, Mike Bloomberg. The Bloomberg opinion article, posted by The Washington Post, asked whether Musk’s recent investment in Twitter would endanger freedom of speech. “WaPo always good for a laugh,” Musk wrote in a tweet, with smiling and crying emoji. The jab underscored an unusual and consequential feature of the nation’s new digital public square: Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a vanishingly small club of massively wealthy individuals the ability…

Los Angeles sheriff appears to back down after signaling he was investigating reporter

Villanueva has repeatedly singled out LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian, who is just doing her job by covering his department. Tchekmedyian has published a series of stories about an incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate — including an article on Monday regarding an allegation that Villanueva was implicated in a cover-up. At Tuesday’s press conference, Villanueva displayed and pointed to a photo of Tchekmedyian, plus one of his political rivals and the sheriff’s inspector general. Arrows implied a connection between all three. Villanueva referred to video of the incident that Tchekmedyian had obtained as “stolen property.” And he…