When Washington Had More Than One Newspaper: “We Were All Having Such a Good Time”

From a review, by Philip Terzian, of the book, The Evening Star, by Faye Haskins, in the Wall Street Journal:

While its chief competitor, the Washington Post, was more broadly ambitious, the Washington Evening Star was, as it wished to be, a pre-eminently local institution.

This was not necessarily a bad thing in a newspaper, and from my perspective—growing up in the Washington of the 1950s and ’60s—it made the Star preferable to the Post. It gave its readers a sense of Washington as a community, a city not always engaged in affairs of state.

How Journalists Lose the Public’s Trust When They Try Too Hard to Build Their Personal Brands

From a column in the New York Times, “How We Lost Faith in Everything,” by Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and author of the forthcoming book A Time to Build:

In one arena after another, we find people who should be insiders formed by institutions acting like outsiders performing on institutions. Many members of Congress now use their positions not to advance legislation but to express and act out the frustrations of their core constituencies. Rather than work through the institution, they use it as a stage to elevate themselves, raise their profiles and perform for the cameras in the reality show of our unceasing culture war.

How Writers Start Stories That Make Readers Want to Keep Reading

A June 17 post showed how the creators of the hit television show “The Sopranos” used the first hour of the show to create scenes that made viewers want to know what happened next. The television approach, by writer David Chase, was similar to how print journalists—especially when doing narrative journalism—create a scene or scenes that make the reader keep reading.

A look back at the leads of five Washingtonian stories that had a big impact on readership and won National Magazine Awards.

“Doing so made the magazine accessible to larger numbers of readers. But it also ceded what once had been very high ground.”

From an interesting look back, by Jacob Bernstein and Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times, at how Harper’s Bazaar and other magazines have changed in the Internet age:

On Feb. 28, when Glenda Bailey stands in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of the Louvre, presiding over the opening of a new photography retrospective, “Harper’s Bazaar: First in Fashion,” it will mark her final act as editor of the storied magazine. Hearst, the publication’s owner, announced on Wednesday her move to become a “global consultant” after 19 years.

Columnist Gene Weingarten Asks What Other Bad Habits He and President Trump Might Share

Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten discovers that he and President Trump share an old writing habit:

The two-spaces-after-a-period typing convention is something that is obsolete, like us boomers. It’s a throwback to the era of mechanical typewriters, when letter spacing was chaotic and you needed that extra space to emphasize the end of a sentence and the beginning of another. That two-space habit was, not surprisingly, habit-forming. I have never been able to break it. Neither, apparently, has Donald Trump. The only difference is a trivial one: I am ashamed of my disability. Trump is apparently proud of his.

Making Readers Want to Know More

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.

The long-running television show, “The Sopranos,” starring James Gandolfiini as Tony Soprano, was a complicated story—a Mafia boss, his family, all kinds of characters, all kinds of organized crime—and I wondered how the creators got viewers into it during the first hour.

Very cleverly. The first hour began with Tony driving the New Jersey Turnpike with the song, “Woke Up This Morning,” pounding in the background. Then Tony, after what appeared to be a panic attack, is in a psychiatrist’s office reluctantly telling the doctor (Lorraine Braco) about the stress of his life and work.

The Man Who Invented the Modern Magazine

From a book review, “The Showman of Vanity Fair,” by Ben Yagoda in the Wall Street Journal:

People who aren’t historians or followers of the magazine business can be forgiven for assuming that “Condé Nast” is a fictional brand figurehead, like Betty Crocker or Dinty Moore. That’s how closely the name aligns in the popular imagination with the group of magazines published by Condé Nast Inc., currently including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and the New Yorker. Indeed, a mental image of this Mr. Nast might be something along the lines of Eustace Tilley, the monocled, top-hatted dandy who used to be on the cover of the New Yorker’s anniversary issue each February and now can be seen at the beginning of the Talk of the Town section.

Sylvia Jukes Morris: “As a Biographer, She Was One Hell of a Detective”

From a New York Times obit, by Katharine Q. Seelye, of author Sylvia Jukes Morris:

When Sylvia Jukes Morris was writing her monumental two-volume biography of Clare Boothe Luce, she discovered several facts at variance with what Ms. Luce had put forth in the public record.

“I tracked down her New York birth certificate and found that she was born in March, not April, 1903, and that her place of birth was not Riverside Drive but the less genteel environs of West 125th Street,” Ms. Morris wrote in the epilogue of the second volume, “Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce” (2014).

Amazon’s Message to Authors: Skip the Bookstores, We’ll Sell More Books for You

From a Wall Street Journal story, by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, headlined “Amazon Courts Big-Name Authors”:

When Dean Koontz’s book contract expired last year, his stature as one of the country’s top-selling authors made him a hot target for several major publishing houses. He chose Amazon.com Inc.

It was a surprising move because it means his new books likely won’t appear in retail stores, which generally boycott Amazon published titles. But Mr. Koontz is banking on Amazon’s vast retail machine to get his work to readers, whether in physical or digital formats.

Jimmy Hoffa, the Irishman, the Mafia, and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

“The Irishman,” the Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, did well in the Oscar nominations: best picture, best director, Pacino and Pesci as best supporting actors, and best adapted screenplay.

The movie was adapted from Charles Brandt’s book, I Heard You Paint Houses, which chronicles the life of Frank Sheeran, a Teamsters Union official who confesses to crimes he committed while working for Jimmy Hoffa and the Bufalino crime family.