Richard Baron: A Contrarian Who Published James Baldwin and Norman Mailer and Was Fearless

From a New York Time obit by Sam Roberts headlined “Richard Baron, Who Published Baldwin and Mailer, Dies at 98”:

Richard Baron, the contrarian publisher of the Dial Press, had boundless audacity when he wanted to prove a point.

Diners at his all-white country club in Purchase, N.Y, were said to have been mortified when Mr. Baron brought James Baldwin as a guest to lunch one day — until Mr. Baldwin received the imprimatur of a hearty embrace from another prominent club member, the publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

Battle at Wall Street Journal Over Staff Writing Books or Taking on Other Outside Projects

From a post on by Celine Castronuovo headlined “Union condemns new Dow Jones policy on Wall Street Journal employees’ outside work”:

The union representing journalists at Dow Jones & Co. publications condemned a policy change from the company that would give it greater authority over books and other external projects by Wall Street Journal employees.

The union, IAPE 1096, said that Dow Jones had unveiled a new policy “for WSJ news personnel in which the company claimed new and potentially expansive rights over employees’ efforts to write books or pursue other external projects.”…

Jackie Calmes in the Los Angeles Times: “The radicalization of the Republican Party has been the biggest story of my journalism career”

From a column in the Los Angeles Times by Jackie Calmes headlined “My front row seat to the radicalization of the Republican Party”:

Since before he became president, Joe Biden has told crowds, “Folks, this is not your father’s Republican Party.” As a political reporter, I’d been hearing that lament since the late 1990s, from far better sources — those Republican fathers’ sons and daughters.

The radicalization of the Republican Party has been the biggest story of my career. I’ve been watching it from the start, from the time I arrived in then-Democratic Texas just out of college in 1978 to my years as a reporter in Washington through four revolutions — Ronald Reagan’s, Newt Gingrich’s, the tea party’s and Donald Trump’s — each of which took the party farther right.

Ben Smith in the New York Times: “Why The New Yorker’s Stars Didn’t Join Its Union”

From a New York Times Media Equation story by Ben Smith headlined “Why The New Yorker’s Stars Didn’t Join Its Union”:

Writers for The New Yorker have been known to refer to the editor, David Remnick, as “Dad,” so there was something a little illicit about their decision to gather without him back in 2018 at a Windsor Terrace apartment.

Some 20 of the writers, many of them marquee names, were getting together to decide how to react to the surprise announcement that their less heralded colleagues — fact checkers, copy editors, web producers, social media editors — were forming a union and demanding raises.

Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism

Here’s a list of all the winners.

In the Public Service category the print winners were:

Public Service in Newspaper Journalism (Daily Circulation 100,001+)
The killing of George Floyd
Staff, StarTribune

Public Service in Newspaper Journalism (Daily Circulation 1-100,000)
Pandemic. Protests. Politics. A year at the center of three storms.
Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Public Service in Newspaper Journalism (Non-Daily Publication)
Remember Them
Staff, Philadelphia Gay News

Public Service in Magazine Journalism (All Circulation Sizes)
The risky business of breast implants
Maria Aspan of Fortune

Public Service in Online Journalism
Tracking the coronavirus
Staff, The New York Times

How the Pentagon Papers Story Affected the Careers of Three New York Times Reporters and a Historian

From a Times Insider column  by Terence McGinley about how the Pentagon Papers story influenced the careers of three New York Times reporters and a historian”:

Fifty years ago today, The Times published the first article in its series on the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s secret study of the United States’ role in Vietnam. The papers, including private revelations that ran counter to the public optimism of leaders, changed American journalism and a nation’s relationship with its government. The Nixon administration’s attempt to stop The Times from printing its series, and the Supreme Court decision that allowed the paper to continue, is a landmark First Amendment case….Today Times journalists and contributors wrote about these themes.

Charlotte Alter: “If Barack Obama is a writer stuck inside a politician, Chris Matthews may be a politician stuck inside a writer.”

From a Washington Post review by Charlotte Alter headlined “Chris Matthews’ new book catalogues his front-row seat to history”:

If Barack Obama is a writer stuck inside a politician, Chris Matthews may be a politician stuck inside a writer.

Jack Shafer on why local newspapers are failing: “The readers have withheld their affections”

From a Fourth Estate column by Jack Shafer on headlined “Why Has Local News Collapsed? Blame Readers.”:

Local news is good for us, we’re told daily, most recently this week in a FiveThirtyEight piece and seconded by the Reliable Sources newsletter. Local news makes representative government more accountable, scholars claim. Books and monographs extolling the virtues of local reporting on everything from public health to economic vitality abound….

Baltimore Sun Writer Fred Rasmussen Celebrates the Lives of the Dearly Departed

From a post on by Jane Marion about Baltimore Sun obituary writer Fred Rasmussen:

In his 48 years with The Baltimore Sun—29 on the newspaper’s necrology team—Fred Rasmussen has written tens of thousands of obituaries. And ever since COVID-19, the lifelong journalist has had even more subjects to memorialize.

“Since March of last year, we’ve been totally clobbered,” says Rasmussen….

Obituary writing was once considered a backwater of the newspaper business, but for the likes of Rasmussen, commemorating the dead—in his words, those who’ve gone to “bliss eternal”—has become a lively, lasting form of art. For him, writing an obituary is a chance to celebrate a person’s life.

The Washington Monthly Asks: Can State Governments Save Local Newspapers?

From a Washington Monthly story by Anna Brugmann headlined “Can State Governments Save Local Newspapers?”:

Dusty Christensen still has his job, but many of his colleagues are not so lucky. A staff reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts, his newsroom lost 14 positions last year to layoffs and buyouts. Another 29 positions were cut when the paper’s owner, Newspapers of New England, outsourced its printing to Gannett, ending a more than 200-year history of the paper being printed locally.

It’s a familiar story for anyone who’s been following local journalism.