Just The Facts?
There have been many types of journalism throughout American history - too many to list here - but three have dominated the business-profession-craft-art during my career, which began in 1971:
Old School - dating roughly from WWII - which offered straight, objective, Joe Friday coverage of news events. This was my alma mater. My textbook was the Associated Press Stylebook. My teachers were drinking, smoking, cursing, cutthroat, pencil-packing newspapermen (few women) who really did race each other to pay phones and shout, “Give me rewrite!” Thomas Wolfe described them beautifully in a famous passage in “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
New School - which sprang primarily from the writing of Timesman and fellow Calabrian Gay Talese, and another Tom Wolfe, both of whom demonstrated that journalism can be as compelling as fiction. Its raw language and graphic descriptions put color in the cheeks of Old Gray Ladies everywhere. Talese’s classic “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold” from the April 1966 Esquire Magazine, and Wolfe’s 1968 road-tripping “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” set the standard.
No School - an Animal House of infotainment, punditry, and pack-patrolled celebrity beats that offers open enrollment to anyone with anything to say, write, show, or blog.
My novel, Graphic Times, views the world as well as the news business through the eyes of an old school reporter whose pursuit of a sensational story leads him into a desert landscape haunted by mythology, mysticism, murder, and his own past.
The front-page story on the execution of Gary Gilmore was just one of many national news events Joe covered during his 25-year career in journalism. The Deseret News literally “stopped the presses” to get the story into print that day. The newspaper’s archives contain more than 3,000 of his byline articles.
“We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as bad as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are in a sense effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.”
Henry David Thoreau
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