When Journalism Depended on Unfiltered Camels

From The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale by James Atlas:

My tenure at Time was ignominious. I was a “floater,” assigned each week to whatever section of the magazine was short-handed. Often it was Milestones, the page that recorded the deaths of famous people or significant—usually malign—events in their lives, such as divorces or prison convictions or spectacular financials crashes.

In the next cubicle sat Muchiko Kakutani, chain-smoking unfiltered Camels as she turned out fast-breaking stories with a machine-gun clack of typewriter keys. Who could have predicted that within a decade she would land the job of daily book reviewer for The New York Times and become the most feared critic in America?

“If I Can’t Smoke I Can’t Write.”

“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t…”

“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”

—Author James Baldwin

Seven Things You Can Learn From an Old Dog

From Dave Barry’s 2019 book Lessons From Lucy: What a writer learned from his aging dog, who he says moves a little slower, but her capacity for joy, her enthusiasm for life, does not seem to have diminished with age.

Lesson One: Make new friends. (And keep the ones you have.)

Lesson Two: Don’t stop having fun. (And if you have stopped, start having fun again.)

Lesson Three: Pay attention to the people you love. (Not later. Right now.)

Lesson Four: Let go of your anger. (Unless it’s about something really important, which it almost never is.)

What Headline Writers Might Learn From a Band-Aid Box

After cutting a finger with a kitchen knife, I had time to read the Band-Aid box while my wife stopped the bleeding. The box is small—four inches by four inches—and packed with enough sell words on all sides of the box that you wonder how many ad agency writers and vice presidents were involved. And also what writers of digital headlines might learn from it about the power of positive words.



Dependable protection that stays in place



9/11 at the Pentagon: “Tarantino and Thomas crawled through burning wreckage to free Jerry Henson, who was trapped in debris.”

Some of those at the Pentagon on 9/11 were honored by the Washingtonian. The citation:


On September 11, 2001, we watched firefighters, police officers, members of search-and-rescue teams, military personnel, and civilians give new meaning to courage under fire. They entered the inferno that was the Pentagon, putting themselves in harm’s way to help others.

Five of those heroes are honored here. They represent hundreds more who went beyond the call of duty. They were joined by anonymous passersby who saw the fire and raced to help.

The Morning of 9/11 and the Dawn of the Digital Age

Eighteen years ago I had breakfast at DC’s Mayflower Hotel with Brian Lamb, who ran C-SPAN. We met at 8 and left the hotel around 9:15.

At the Mayflower, we’d talked with a half dozen journalists and political types. When I got back to the Washingtonian’s offices, the staff was huddled in the publisher’s office silently watching TV. It was September 11, 2001.

No one in the Mayflower’s dining room had a cell phone. The morning of 9/11 and the dawn of the digital age changed everything.

The President, a Sharpie, and the Hurricane That Missed Alabama

By Barnard Law Collier

Despite the exceptionally clever media mockery with black Sharpie lines in absurd places, I believe it must be admitted that President Trump was NOT entirely wrong to mention Alabama as a possible destination for Hurricane Dorian.

I am a long-established weather map reader and forecast listener. I methodically followed Dorian, ”Child of the Sea,” from the afternoon of its birth on August 24 as a “depression” 800 miles southeast of  Barbados.

It became a “storm” over Barbados three days later with 65 mile an hour winds. (“Just an annoyance, no damage,” reports a Bajan friend.). Then it whipped a few stormy bands at Puerto Rico and took a track that led dead-on toward South Florida.

A Poem in Defense of Joe Biden

The Public Hug
by Robert Hershon

we’re leaving the restaurant
and here is an old friend home from spain
we embrace my luncheon companions
coworkers with the surnames of elizabethan poets
stand aside later there are jokes about men
who hug men in public

listen: i hug men
i hug women children cats dogs drunks and uncles
i know the texture of people’s hair
how much weight their shoulders can support
i’m a patter and a toucher and a kisser
once i playfully punched a friend in the arm
he turned unexpectedly and i smashed his glasses
those are the chances you take

Journalism’s Culture War: “It Always Boiled Down to a Battle Over the Very Purpose of What We Do”

An up-to-date digital newsroom.

From an article, “Who cares if it’s true: Modern-day newsrooms reconsider their values,” by the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher in the March/April 2014 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review. Five years later the question might be: Have most newspapers moved much closer to the digital journalism model, especially at the Washington Post after it was bought in late 2013 by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos?

As U.S. Journalists Run Out of Ways to Describe Donald Trump’s Performance, the Canadians Create New Possibilities With Boris Johnson

Brexit omnishambles with Boris Johnson.

From an editorial in the Globe & Mail, a Canadian newspaper printed in five cities in western and central Canada:

We begin this editorial with an apology to you, our faithful readers. In March, we described the Brexit situation, then careening through its third year and nowhere close to resolution, as an “omnishambles.”

An omnishambles is a state of utter chaos, total disorder and perfect mismanagement – which brings us to our apology. If you’ve been paying any attention to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, you know that, in declaring United Kingdom politics to have reached peak shambolic six months ago, we spoke too soon. Oh, did we ever.