Big City Journalists Didn’t Know What the Rest of America Was Thinking—Here’s One Way to Fix It

By Jack Limpert

The day after the election, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said that the media missed the Trump story because:

Journalists—college-educated, urban and, for the most part, liberal—are more likely than ever before to live and work in New York City and Washington, D.C., or on the West Coast. And although we touched down in the big red states for a few days, or interviewed some coal miners or unemployed autoworkers in the Rust Belt, we didn’t take them seriously. Or not seriously enough.

Three weeks later Sullivan added:

A New Editor at Texas Monthly Seems to Signal a Dialing Down of Its Ambition and Its Expenses

Texas Monthly announced today that it has a new editor, Tim Taliaferro, replacing Brian Sweany, who started at the monthly magazine in 1996 and has been editor since 2014.

The magazine was sold a month ago by Emmis Communications, a broadcasting company based in Indianapolis that had branched out into magazines (Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Texas Monthly) but now is selling all of the magazines except for Indianapolis Monthly.

The buyer of Texas M0nthly was Paul Hobby, whose grandfather was once the state’s governor and whose father was the lieutenant governor. He announced the appointment of Taliaferro.

Words That Stop the Reader from Reading

The first graf in a story in today’s Washington Post:

Pianist Aristo Sham, 20 and a student at Harvard, isn’t sure whether he’ll go into music or economics, but his recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection made a strong case for the former.

At this point the reader stops, goes back to “music and economics,” and figures out that the writer is suggesting that Sham stick with music. So why not write:

Pianist Aristo Sham, 20 and a student at Harvard, isn’t sure whether he’ll go into music or economics, but his recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection made a strong case for music.

Jim Perry: A Long and Good Life as a Journalist


Jim Perry in 1969

A notice in today’s Washington Post said that James M. Perry, 89, died Wednesday, November 23, with his two daughters by his side. It said he was a World War Two Marine veteran, career journalist, historian and blogger who was awarded the Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club in 1997.

When Writing It’s Easy to Forget That the Reader May Need More Grounding

Q: You have said that “the editor’s relationship to a book should be an invisible one.”. . .could you explain how that actually works out in practice?

Most Newspapers Didn’t Like Trump But Their Headline Writers Now Love Him

While few newspapers supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, their headline-writing copy editors are happy that the president-elect’s name has only five letters. Heads at the top of yesterday’s Washington Post front page:

Trump takes aim
at federal workers

aides say
is priority

Today’s lead story:

Trump shifts on
Clinton, climate

Looking back 50 years,  it almost appears copy editors had some control over the nominating process: Trump, Clinton, Obama, Romney, McCain, Bush, Kerry, Gore, Dole, Dukakis, Reagan, Mondale, Carter, Ford, Nixon, McGovern, Humphrey, Goldwater, Johnson. A lot of short names.

Merriman Smith and “the greatest lead ever written on a breaking story”

By Wesley G. Pippert


Merriman Smith: UPI’s brightest star.

During its glory days, UPI was fueled by a host of talented but underpaid correspondents, bonded by a sense of esprit de corps. The wire service’s brightest star was Merriman Smith. When Smitty, as he was  known, died, the UPI story identified him as “Merriman Smith, the dean of White House correspondents.” The next day, a UPI staffer said the lead should have identified him as simply “Merriman Smith, the White House reporter.” In other words, “THE White House reporter.”

Maybe a Few Former Marines Could Help the Press See More Clearly

Andrew McGill of the Atlantic has some suggestions on Fixing America’s Nearsighted Press Corps:

Of all the parties with egg on their faces after Donald Trump’s surprise election—Democrats, pollsters, political bettors—my colleagues in the media felt especially yolky….

In the aftermath, many of the immediate post-mortems blamed a coastal bubble: Too many journalists had grown nearsighted in urban Democratic enclaves, the reasoning went, blinding them to what was taking place in Middle America. If more reporters actually spent time in fly-over country, instead of jetting through for a rally, they’d understand why Donald Trump won voters over. And if national newsrooms prioritized hiring folks who didn’t graduate from elite journalism programs—and maybe didn’t graduate from college at all—well, that wouldn’t hurt, either….

Dr. Denton Cooley: He tells you about the man who taught him that kind of speed

Pioneering U.S. heart surgeon, Denton Cooley, dies at 96

Dr. Denton Cooley, who sparked controversy and a feud with another pioneering heart surgeon when he performed the world’s first artificial heart implant in 1969, died on Friday at the age of 96, the Texas Heart Institute said.

Cooley, who also performed the first successful human heart transplant in the United States, founded the Texas Heart Institute and was one of the most celebrated heart surgeons in the world.

NOVEMBER 6, 2014
By Jack Limpert

What Journalism Needs Now: More Writers Who Can Make You Smile

At the Washingtonian I searched hard for writers who could make readers laugh about the city. It wasn’t easy. In the 1970s, the reigning funny writer in Washington was Art Buchwald, a syndicated columnist who did some freelancing. I invited him to lunch at Sans Souci, then the in-crowd restaurant, and asked him to do a humor piece for the Washingtonian. He liked one of the ideas I tossed out and agreed to do it for $1,500. The deadline came and went and I called to ask how he was doing. “Oh,” he said, “I sold that to Playboy for $3,000.”