A week of Florida writers – Part 1

If you live in Florida, where Marge and I have been visiting this past week, you likely know who Edward Bok is, not because he won a Pulitzer almost a century ago or once was the editor of Ladies’ Home Journal, but because he created Bok Gardens with his Singing Tower as its centerpiece. He [...]

Real newspaper stories – Part 5

JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY IN ATTEMPT ON WOMAN’S LIFE . . . the section 2, page 1 headline in the July 19th edition of the Washington, PA, Observer-Reporter. I read the story because I had read an earlier, pretrial story about Paul Helmick of Canton township charged with clocking his ex-girlfriend, Lori Phillips, with a [...]

Real newspaper stories – Part 4

I love to read crime stories in the newspaper. They so often contain bits and parts and quotes that we writers of crime fiction just could not invent. We aren’t that imaginative. Example from the July 17th edition of the Washington, PA, Observer-Reporter: EX-FIRE CHIEF, WIFE WAIVE HEARINGS. The Roscoe/Elco/Stockdale/Allenport, PA, regional police arrested Victor [...]

Real newspaper stories – Part 1

I like the Observer-Reporter, Washington, Pennsylvania’s newspaper. In every issue, I know I’m going to find a story that either amazes me or caused me to well up in laughter. An amazing story . . . from the July 14th edition: ALASKAN MAIL CARRIER MUSHED THROUGH REGION IN 1907. Executive editor Park Burroughs wrote this [...]

Lies, damn lies, and newspaper stories – Part 5

Small towns scramble to get something or build something or develop something that will make them distinctive, that will make people – tourists – want to come there and spend money. I pondered that when I was a columnist for the Douglas County News-Press, out there in Colorado, on the front range of the Rocky [...]

Lies, damn lies, and newspaper stories – Part 4

My first job with a real newspaper, the Douglas County News-Press in Castle Rock, Colorado, was as a general assignment reporter. Eventually, I picked up the education beat because I had been a school teacher in a previous life, and, truth be told, none of the other reporters wanted to sit in on those long [...]

Lies, damn lies, and newspaper stories – Part 3

John Blankenship had the desk next to mine in the bullpen at the Beckley, West Virginia, Register-Herald. He was a fine feature writer. Loved interviewing people who were a bit off-beat, slightly wacky and eccentric. Sometimes, John would invite them into the office and interview them at his desk, scribbling away at his notepad as [...]

Lies, damn lies, and newspaper stories – Part 2

I worked for the Beckley, West Virginia, Register-Herald, in the early 1980s. We had just gotten a new ski resort south of town, Winterplace, on what we called Flat Top Hill and the developers called Flat Top Mountain. We had lots of snow that winter, so I thought it would be good to do a [...]

Colorado spawns great writers – Part 3

I became familiar with T.R. Reid through his commentaries on NPR’s Morning Edition, light stuff first from London and Tokyo where he was the bureau chief for the Washington Post in those capitals, then from Washington, and later from Denver, his hometown, where he continues to live and now works as a film documentarian. As [...]

Tailgate Tasters

Take two out-of-work construction guys, throw them into a tech school for training for a second career, and you get a new magazine – Tailgate Tasters. Chad Pennell and Adam Baumel, two southern Wisconsin buddies who look like they could play tackle for the Green Bay Packers, created the magazine as a consequence of Pennell’s [...]