If a Mafia Boss Ran the Country? Vic Gold Saw the Possibilities

The Boss of Bosses takes the oath.

Trump would have made a great mafia boss. Not sure he’s going to make a great president.

Vic Gold: He Brought a Lot of Wit and Laughter to Politics and Journalism

Vic sometimes looked serious but inside he was smiling.

Vic Gold, who wrote often about the media and politics for the Washingtonian, died last night after a short illness. He was 88.

Here is Vic interviewing himself in a 2008 Washingtonian piece. An excerpt:

If you were teaching a course in Washington 101, what textbooks would you use?

Two come to mind, one fiction, one nonfiction. First, Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, the best novel ever written about the dynamics of power in American politics. My other would be Safire’s Political Dictionary, the liveliest one-volume summary of American electoral history a political junkie could ask for.

John Grisham’s Writing Advice—Also See Strunk and Orwell

John Grisham: Most writers use too many words.

Novelist John Grisham is profiled by Janet Maslin in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. As a bonus, there’s a sidebar of “John Grisham’s Suggestions for Writing Popular Fiction.” He has eight suggestions and admits, “There is nothing original about this list. It has all been said before by writers much smarter than me.”

Suggestions 6 and 7 apply to journalism.

6. DON’T — KEEP A THESAURUS WITHIN REACHING DISTANCE

I know, I know, there’s one at your fingertips.

How Country Music Sees Life: Lots of Drinking and Lost Loves

The Washington Post had a Sunday piece on Billy Joe Shaver, calling him “the original country-music outlaw” and including these lines from one of his songs:

The devil made me do it the first time.

The second time I done it on my own.

Then came this week’s obits on Gregg Allman with some of his better lines, including:

My father was a gambler down in Georgia.

He wound up on the wrong end of a gun.

And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus rollin’ down Highway 41.

The Future of Magazines: Two Paths Some Are Taking to Survive

The City and Regional Magazine Association has an annual editorial awards competition—the 2017 winners recently were honored. For the past six years, I’ve been helping to judge the competition in the general excellence category. Because of my longtime connection to the Washingtonian, I’ve been judging only the under 30,000 circulation category or the 30,000 to 60,000 category.

Judging the under 30,000 category this year made me think something significant is happening and is this where magazines are going?

By Lloyd Grove, Who Is Sometimes Accused of Doing Fake Journalism

The last graf of a Daily Beast piece by Lloyd Grove on CBS news anchor Scott Pelley:

Pelley—who is sometimes accused of having a tin ear for corporate politics, a limited degree of self-awareness, and an anchorman’s outside ego—eventually realized he had overplayed his hand, sources said.

Frank Deford’s Timeless Advice to Ballplayers—and Writers

Frank Deford died Sunday at the age of 78; here’s the obit from Sports Illustrated, his writing home for many years. And an appreciation of Deford from Sally Jenkins in today’s Washington Post.

Earlier this month, I posted some wisdom from Deford about developing a skill. It was on the editorial bulletin board of the Washingtonian for many years.

May 5, 2017

Frank Deford at home in Key West with his wife Carol and dog Miss Snickers. Photo by Tom Goldman/88.5WFDD

Elite Journalism Likes to Honor Veterans But Not Hire Them

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

Posted on November 20, 2016

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….

If You Write the News, or Read It, Here’s a Movie for You

By Mike Feinsilber

How New York Times obit writers work.

“Hey, I just saw a great movie you ought to see.”

“Yeah?”

“It’s a documentary.”

“I like documentaries. What’s it about?”

“It’s called Obit. It’s about the eight or so people at the New York Times who write the obituaries.”

“Oh, gee. I can’t. Got to rewrite my will tonight.”

I can imagine this conversation taking place a thousand times. What was director Vanessa Gould thinking? Who wants to watch people writing obituaries?

The Motto of Every Good Interviewer Is STFU

By Barnard Law Collier

That paragraph about listening posted yesterday from Tom Rosenstiel’s novel, Shining City, is among the truest I’ve ever read about good reporting and interviewing.

The motto of every good interviewer is STFU—and listen.

To listen carefully to what is being said to you, or others, including all the body language and inflections you are able to recognize, is the heart and soul of good interviewing.

Tom Rosenstiel’s words bear repeating: