Small towns are rarely in the news—”when it does happen, it’s often by way of caricature.”

From a Washington Post story by Elahe Izadi headlined “This journalist did it all, until she was silenced”:

During her time working for the Floyd Press, Ashley Spinks basically was the Floyd Press.

As managing editor of the weekly newspaper covering a rural community in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Spinks took photos of the first day of school, laid out the newspaper and edited freelance pieces. She attended Floyd town council meetings, covered Confederate monument debates, did award-winning reporting on the water system problems and wrote news-you-can-use pieces, like the one helpfully headlined “Don’t feed the bears!”

“He realized he liked nighthawking and did not want to spend a lifetime teaching English.”

From a book review by Dwight Garner in the New York Times headlined “The Music Biographer Peter Guralnick’s New Book Covers Many Subjects—Including Himself”:

Peter Guralnick is a commanding figure in music biography; his lives of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and Sam Phillips are, as the Michelin guides used to say, worth the journey. His new book is a collection made up primarily of decades-old profiles and essays, some rewritten. It’s not so commanding. There’s something warmed-over about it. Reading it is like watching Merle Haggard perform in an uptight club with a quiet policy and a two-drink minimum.

Zadie Smith: “She wanted to be a jazz singer but decided she wasn’t as good as Aretha Franklin.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Zadie Smith, born in London in 1975. She grew up in a working-class suburb with her Jamaican mother and English father. She wanted to be a tap dancer but she decided she wasn’t skinny enough; then she wanted to be a jazz singer but she decided she wasn’t as good as Aretha Franklin. She said, “Slowly but surely the pen became mightier than the double pick-up timestep with shuffle.”

“Not only has the Trump obsession often drowned out bigger stories, it has forced us to see them through the distorting lens of the man himself.”

From a post on by Jon Allsop and Pete Vernon headlined “How the press covered the last four years of Trump”:

The media’s response to the Trump presidency has been marked, perhaps above all, by an obsession with Trump. His ability to act as the press’s assignment editor—be it by design or accident of his erratic personality (and there are strong opinions on both sides of that debate)—remains undimmed.

Former President Obama’s New Book: “He wrote it himself, by hand, on yellow legal pads.”

From a post  by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, about the magazine publishing an excerpt from former President Barack Obama’s new book A Promised Land:

This week, The New Yorker is publishing a long piece by Barack Obama about the ferocious battle over his most transformative piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. In “A President Looks Back on His Toughest Fight,” which is adapted from his forthcoming memoir, “A Promised Land,” the forty-fourth President grapples with the ongoing American debate over health care: the root of the problem, the countervailing interests, the ambitions, the setbacks, the politics—“the art of the possible,” as Obama describes the process. . . .

Ben Smith in the NYTimes: “It’s also about a shift in the American media, one in which the gatekeepers appear to have returned after a long absence.”

From a New York Times story by Media Equation columnist Ben Smith headlined “Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It.”:

The Wall Street Journal had seemed to be the perfect outlet for a story the Trump advisers believed could sink Mr. Biden’s candidacy. Its small-c conservatism in reporting means the work of its news pages carries credibility across the industry. And its readership leans further right than other big news outlets. Its Washington bureau chief, Paul Beckett, recently remarked at a virtual gathering of Journal reporters and editors that while he knows that the paper often delivers unwelcome news to the many Trump supporters who read it, The Journal should protect its unique position of being trusted across the political spectrum, two people familiar with the remarks said.

A Good Editor Is. . .

“An editor is a person who knows more about writing than writers do but who has escaped the terrible desire to write.” —E. B. White

“One must never forget that writing and editing are entirely different arts, or crafts. Good editing has saved bad writing more often than bad editing has harmed good writing.” —Gardner Botsford

“Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, ‘How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?’ and avoid ‘’How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?’” —James Thurber

Anna Wintour, Vogue and Haute Couture Confront the Race Issue: “We Have Made Mistakes”

Anna Wintour. Photograph via Flickr.

From a long New York Times story by Edmund Lee headlined “The White Issue: Has Anna Wintour’s Diversity Push Come Too Late?”:

Vogue’s September issue was different this year. Anna Wintour and her staff put it together when more than 15 million people were marching in Black Lives Matter protests nationwide and employees at Vogue’s parent company, Condé Nast, were publicly calling out what they viewed as racism in their own workplace. At 316 pages, the issue, titled “Hope,” featured a majority of Black artists, models and photographers, a first for the magazine.

Jerry Jeff Walker: He was part of the Texas outlaw movement that catapulted Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to fame.

From a New York Times obit by Bill Friskics-Warren headlined “Jerry Jeff Walker, Who Wrote and Sang ‘Mr. Bojangles,’ Dies at 78”:

Jerry Jeff Walker, the singer-songwriter who wrote the much-recorded standard “Mr. Bojangles” and later became a mainstay of the Texas outlaw movement that catapulted Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to fame, died on Friday at a hospital in Austin, Texas. . . .

A native New Yorker, Mr. Walker began his career in the 1960s, hitchhiking and busking around the country before establishing himself in Greenwich Village and writing the song that would secure his reputation.

“A swashbuckling publisher who fostered the literary careers of more than a dozen Nobel laureates and conceived the Booker Prize.”

From a New York Times obit by Sam Roberts headlined “Tom Maschler, Bold British Publisher and Booker Prize Founder, Dies at 87”:

Tom Maschler, the swashbuckling British publisher who fostered the literary careers of more than a dozen Nobel laureates and conceived the coveted Booker Prize to promote fiction, died on Oct. 15 in a hospital near his home in Luberon, in southeastern France. . . .

A Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Vienna, where his father was a publisher, Mr. Maschler was 26 in 1960 when he was named literary director of Jonathan Cape, the prominent London publishing firm, a month after the death of its founder.