Texas Monthly Is Changing. Deal With It—the Changes Might Help It Survive

At the beginning in 1973.

Yesterday the Columbia Journalism Review generated controversy with a piece titled New editor in chief takes Texas Monthly in a ‘lifestyle’ direction. The opening grafs:

The new editor in chief of Texas Monthly plans to pull back from the kind of longform and political coverage that gave the title a national profile to focus instead on lifestyle coverage, website enhancements, and a live-events business.

We Aren’t the Story, says Renowned Political Analyst and Must-Follow Twitter and Television Personality Who’s Available to Make Speeches

Media, under attack from Trump, needs to return to the fundamentals

—Head on Chris Cillizza’s column in today’s Washington Post.
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Who is Chris Cillizza?

His Wikipedia page:

Christopher Michael “Chris” Cillizza (/sᵻˈlɪzə/; born February 20, 1976) is an American journalist and political commentator. He writes at The Fix, a daily political weblog for the Washington Post. He is a regular contributor to the Post on political issues, a frequent panelist on Meet the Press, and is an MSNBC political analyst. Cillizza is also a regular co-host on The Tony Kornheiser Show.

David Carr: Educate Yourself and Then Pass It On

When David died in February 2015 of what turned out to be lung cancer, Simon & Schuster went back to press with The Night of the Gun. That was a Thursday night and it was ranked No. 53,570 on the Amazon best-sellers list. Twenty-four hour later, Amazon listed it as “temporarily out of stock”—and it had jumped to No. 7 on the overall list.

John le Carré on the Russians, the KGB, and Kleptocracy

John le Carré: Vladimir Putin’s KGB became a streamlined kleptocracy.

From John le Carré’s memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life, about  serving in British intelligence and then becoming a writer of spy novels.

I have met two former heads of the KGB in my life and I liked them both. The last to hold the job before the KGB changed its name, though not its spots, was Vadim Bakatin. . . .In 1999, to his surprise and not altogether his pleasure, Mikhail Gorbachev handed him the poisoned chalice: take over the KGB and clean it up. Sitting listening to him now, I could well imagine what might have prompted Gorbachev to offer him the job: Bakatin’s patent decency, which is of the deep-running, stubborn sort, made of awkward silences while he carefully weighs a question before delivering the carefully weighed answer.

Why Journalism Awards Are Often Too Much Like Dog Shows

One of the group winners at last night’s Westminster Dog Show.

This is the time of year for journalism awards—the National Magazine Awards were announced a week ago—and the Westminster Dog Show, which began last night and concludes tonight.

Our neighborhood’s two most popular breeds, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, have never won Westminster. They’re great dogs but not new or different. I’ve judged a lot of journalism contests and the tendency among judges is also to reward entries that are not the same old good—sometimes great—stuff. Often I’ve heard a judge say, “It’s a great story but other magazines also do stories like that.”

Remembering a Dozen Truly Good Editors

By Barnard Law Collier

I once described a New York Review of Books editor as “a good editor” in a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile. The editor wrote me a venomous, condescending letter and followed with a phone call to inform me that the adjective “good” was insulting and diminished him in his trade.

He said he should be described as “the best editor” in New York.

When I first became a paid writer at age nine ($2 per weekly issue) as the founder and sole employee of the Audubon Society News in Royal Oak, Michigan, the concept of “editor” first dawned on me. I’ve not yet, in nearly seven decades, met a “best” editor, but I’ve known a grand selection of truly good ones.

An Arcane, Ugly Word—and in the New Yorker

In his February 6 review of Gold, a new movie, New Yorker critic Anthony Lane says of the actor Matthew McConaughey,  “I always reckoned that nothing else could match his refulgent tan, although my theory slumps at the sight of Kenny Wells, McConaughey’s character in Gold, who is pale and sweaty, with a paunch the size of a medicine ball and a hairline that has long since sounded the retreat.”

His refulgent tan? Does that mean ugly?

No, the dictionary says it means “shines very brightly.”

If Edward Snowden Had Been Able to Write

“In your new novel, sir,” an earnest American journalist asks me, “you have a man saying of your central character that he would not have become a traitor if he had been able to write. Can you tell me, please, what would have become of you, if you had not been able to write?”

Searching for a safe answer to this dangerous question, I wonder whether our secret services should not be grateful to their literary defectors after all. Compared with the hell we might have raised by other means, writing was as harmless as playing with our bricks. How much our poor beleaguered spies must be wishing that Edward Snowden had done the novel instead.

Those National Magazine Awards: Some History, Some Stories

Alexander Calder’s stabile “Elephant,” known as an “Ellie,” is the symbol of the National Magazine Awards.

Winners of the 52nd annual National Magazine Awards were announced today in 20 categories. Here’s a list of the winners, plus some in-depth coverage from Nieman Storyboard and Longform.

The 20 categories are up from the 12 categories when the Washingtonian won its first two NMAs in 1985. Back then there were four general excellence categories based on circulation: Over one million, 400,000 to one million, 100,000 to 400,000, and under 100,000. The NMAs now have four general excellence categories based on subject matter: News, Sports, and Entertainment; Service and Lifestyle; Special Interest; Literature, Science, and Politics.

A Newspaper Should be Divided Into Four Sections: Truths, Probabilities, Possibilities, Lies—Thomas Jefferson

John Osborne of the New Republic.

In a February 3 post, Raymond Price laid out his “Dirty Dozen” complaints about the press. Price had been a New York Herald Tribune reporter and editorial writer; he then became President Richard Nixon’s speechwriter and his complaints about the press were drawn from his 1977 book, With Nixon. Here, also from the Washingtonian book excerpt, he praises John Osborne of the New Republic for being what a journalist should be.