Joe Diffie RIP: “When you’re spinning around, things come undone/Welcome to Earth 3rd rock from the Sun.”

From a David Von Drehlie column in the Washington Post:

Joe Diffie’s secret was a voice as pure and rich and note-perfect as any baritone in Nashville. A secret, because that wasn’t what country music fans wanted from him during his time at the top of the charts in the 1990s. They wanted a fellow with a friendly air, 30 extra beer pounds and a proud, bad mullet — Diffie rocked the worst/best mullet in the business.

The Shooting of a President: John Hinckley Jr. was standing 10 feet from the President and armed with a .22 revolver.

Thirty-nine years ago, Ronald Reagan, 69 days into his presidency, was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel after speaking to the Building and Construction Workers Union of the AFL-CIO when John Hinckley Jr., standing 10 feet from the President and armed with a .22 revolver, began shooting. Hinckley’s first shot hit press secretary James Brady and other shots wounded a DC police officer, Thomas Delahanty,  and a Secret Service agent, Timothy McCarthy. The final shot hit Reagan’s car and ricocheted into the President’s chest.

Here are pictures of the shooting taken by AP photographer Ron Edmonds. His pictures won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.

Song of My Cell Phone: “I burst into your day calling, texting…”

From the Writer’s Almanac:

Song of My Cell Phone
by Lynn Levin

I have seen the best minds of my generation
clunking into buildings and strolling into traffic
wandering the streets looking for an angry fix—
more likes, more followers, better-looking faces on the dating apps.

Called away. I am always called away:
whatever is not in my presence
more filled with hope and promise
than what is in my presence.
Guilty, I have lain with my beloved
unable to resist the beep and brrring
the breaking news, the time and temperature.

“It’s a moment of deep crisis for the local news business. . .But it’s also a moment of great promise.”

From a New York Times column by Ben Smith headlined “Bail Out Journalists. Let Newspaper Chains Die.”:

Elizabeth Green was musing the other day about buying 261 newspapers.

You could, this Sunday, purchase Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the country, for a mere $261 million—about a quarter of what Michael R. Bloomberg spent on his presidential campaign.

And Ms. Green, a founder of the nonprofit education news organization Chalkbeat, is one of the few people who may be able to raise the money to pull off a deal like that.

Religion reporting: “There will be great nobility, and perhaps folly, in the pews.”

From an article by Menachem Wecker for the Journalism Institute titled “Religion reporting in a time of coronavirus”:

As someone who has covered many faith traditions other than the one with which I was raised, spending time in the pews, or otherwise on sacred ground, talking to the religious—clergy and lay people alike—is imperative. This is an exceedingly difficult beat to parachute into and to cover at a distance. Interviewing a minister, rabbi, imam, pastor, priest, or other leader in a respectful yet appropriately-skeptical manner is a tough challenge under normal circumstances; it’s even harder at a time when even the firmest believers contend with pervasive unknowns. And when many of the faithful are convening online for live-streamed services rather than in person, it is difficult to capture the nuances of their experience.

How Jet Magazine Helped Shape American Culture

From a New York Times section “African-American Art That’s Shaping the 21st Century”Mikalene Thomas talks here about the role of Jet magazine:

When I think about my life and my personal journey and my professional trajectory, I would have to think about Jet, as a cultural, social and political media entity that shaped not only African-American people but also American culture through entertainment, through images, through music and fashion and storytelling.

Vin Scully Gives a Message of Hope and Optimism

From a column by Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.

“Hello Bill Plaschke, how are you?” he booms.

“I just wanted to hear your voice,” I say.

Gene Weingarten: Why would you question a last-minute invitation to a book festival?

From Gene Weingarten’s column in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine:

The good news came in from my publisher just recently. I had been invited to the prestigious Tucson Festival of Books to speak about my new book.

I was so glad for the offer that I didn’t really stop to wonder about a curious fact: The event had been planned since August but now it was just two weeks away and for some reason I had to give them a yes or no immediately. Eventually I mentioned this to my friend and editor, Tom the Butcher, whom I can always count on for an ego boost.

John Sears: “Some Thought He Was Deep Throat. He Was Not.”

From a New York Times obit, by Katharine Q. Seelye, headlined “John Sears, Strategist for Nixon and Reagan, Dies at 79: Some thought he was ‘Deep Throat,’ the secret source who helped The Washington Post unravel Watergate. He was not.”

John P. Sears, a Republican political strategist who worked for Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan and was fired by both, died on Thursday in Miami. .  . .

Frequently referred to in the news media as a modern-day Machiavelli or Rasputin, Mr. Sears was only 28 in 1968 when he served as deputy director of field operations for Nixon and helped him secure the Republican presidential nomination. He then worked briefly as deputy counsel in the White House.

Readers, But Not Ads, Flock to Local Newspapers

From a Wall Street Journal story, by Lukas I. Alpert and Keach Hagey, headlined “Coronvirus Is Giving Readers Plenty of News. But Local Outlets Are Still Teetering.”

Readers are flocking to news sites during the coronavirus pandemic. The media has a basic commodity—information—that people are craving as they try to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

And yet, financially, the crisis is delivering a punishing blow to already struggling local publishers, from big-city metro papers to small-town outlets.