Taking a medical break, hope to be back next week.

George Saunders: “The focus of my artistic life has been trying to learn to write emotionally moving stories that a reader feels compelled to finish.”

From a book review by Parul Sehgal in the New York Times headlined “Cheer Up, Trooper: Stories Can Save You”:

The new book [A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders] emerges from his longtime course on the 19th-century Russian short story — on Chekhov and Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol. He dedicates it to his students, “some of the best young writers in America,” he describes them. “They arrive already wonderful.”

Nick Ut, Winner of a Pultizer Prize for Photography, Receives National Medal of Arts

From an AP press release headlined “AP photographer Nick Ut receives National Medal of Arts”:

AP photographer Nick Ut, who retired in 2017 after a 51-year career with The Associated Press, received the National Medal of Arts at the White House.

He is the first journalist to receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government.

The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the U.S.

Bryan Monroe: “He was creative, he was joyful. He was a fierce advocate for journalists of color and for great journalism.”

From a mercurynews.com obit headlined “Bryan Monroe, journalism industry leader, dies at 55”:

A beloved leader in journalism and former deputy managing editor of The Mercury News, Bryan Monroe has died. Monroe, 55, died of a heart attack at his home in Bethesda, Maryland on Wednesday morning.

“Bryan has been a trailblazer in our industry for years,” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said. “We are both shocked and deeply saddened by his passing. He helped countless journalism professionals and students to hone their skills in achieving excellence in their craft.”

Anchee Min: She would be deported if she couldn’t learn to speak English. So she watched “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Sesame Street,” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the novelist Anchee Min, born in 1957 in Shanghai. Her father taught astronomy. She and her parents and her three brothers and sisters lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment. Under the Maoist regime, they were suspected of being bourgeois intellectuals.

When she was 17, Min was selected to be sent to a labor camp called Red Fire Farm, where she could fulfill the noble cause of being a peasant. It was back-breaking work, and even worse psychologically. . . .Min had a secret love affair with a woman named Yan, one of her commanders, a dedicated Revolutionary.

“Stories based on reporting from CNN, MSNBC, the NYTimes and WashPost no longer welcome at Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.”

From a New York Times story by Katie Robertson headlined “New York Post to Staff: Stay Away From CNN, MSNBC, New York Times and Washington Post”:

CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and The New York Times are among the news organizations that President Trump has falsely labeled “fake news.” And now articles based on reporting from the four outlets are no longer welcome at Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, according to three journalists who work there.

High-level editors at The New York Post instructed staff members this week not to use reporting from CNN, MSNBC, The Times and The Washington Post as the sole basis for any Post article. . . .

Telling It Like It Is: “The most astonishing four paragraphs I’ve ever written.”

From a post on poynter.org by Roy Peter Clark headlined “Telling it like it is: When writing news requires a distance from neutrality”:

One of my favorite songs by the great Aaron Neville is “Tell It Like It Is.” That could be the anthem of the moment for journalists, along with the lyrics, “Don’t be afraid, let your conscience be your guide.”

The song played in my head as I read a Washington Post story about the attack on the Capitol written by John Woodrow Cox, based on the work of a team of reporters. I have known Cox’s work from his days at the Tampa Bay Times.

Coping with writer’s block: Would seeing a psychiatrist help?

By Jack Limpert

While editing the Washingtonian, a monthly magazine, I saw a lot of writer’s block and missed deadlines. The most serious case was a writer—very smart and well-educated—who was great when he could meet deadlines but he increasingly froze up for weeks at a time. He knew it couldn’t go on so decided to see a psychiatrist.

A month or so later, he came in and said, “Jack, we’ve figured it out. It’s either fear of success or fear of failure.”

There was a happy ending—he found jobs in daily and weekly journalism where he didn’t have so much time to think.

Sara Fischer: Crafting Informative Newsletters and Media Coverage

From a post of Media Voices headlined “Axios’ media reporter Sara Fischer on crafting informative newsletters and media coverage”:

Launching Axios Media Trends

We did have a formula that we wanted to follow, which mimicked some of the other newsletters that we had already launched. We had launched three others before mine; a health, a tech, and a general newsletter in the morning. And so we kind of got to see what worked and what didn’t work.

We figured if we follow a similar playbook; keep the work short but not shallow, leverage smart data visualisations, and really focus on the intersection of business technology and politics to talk about media, we thought it would be successful.

Sheldon Adelson: A Life of Politics, Gambling, and Newspapers

Also see the New York Times obit by Robert D. McFadden headlined “Sheldon Adelson, Billionaire Donor to G.O.P. and Israel, Is Dead at 87”:

From a Washington Post obit by Donald Frazier headlined “Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate who influenced policy from D.C. to Jerusalem, dies at 87”:

Sheldon G. Adelson, a billionaire casino tycoon and free-spending political donor who helped bankroll conservative candidates in the United States and Israel, and who pushed the governments of both countries to reject the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, died Jan. 11 in Malibu, Calif. . . .