Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Highlights from this Sunday's Times (3/21/10)

Shooting "Treme." (Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

- Wyatt Mason on David Simon's new television show, "Treme"
- Carl Hulse, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jeff Zeleny on the way the Democrats in Congress and the White House stopped the downfall of health-care reform

Monday, March 15, 2010

Highlights from this Sunday's Times (3/14/10)

The changing facade of 104-106 Bowery. (Left, center, New York City Municipal Archives; right, Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

- Dan Barry on the history of a building on the Bowery
- Luc Sante on David Shields' new book, "Reality Hunger: A Manifesto"
- Darryl Brock on baseball's influence on Mark Twain, and Rick Burton on the sport's role in the life of Stephen Crane

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Andrew Astleford wins first place in Hearst Journalism Awards

Congrats to our dear friend, Andrew Astleford, who won first place last week in the Sports Writing category of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation's Journalism Awards Program. His story, "Detour to Destiny: Arena of Dreams," was published in the Columbia Missourian and produced during an Intermediate Writing course at the Missouri School of Journalism, taught by Jacqui Banaszynski.

Astleford's story shows the human side of dreams not-yet dropped, and how a player's success is more meaningful to him than just the momentary glory of the 100-yard stage.

After graduating in December, Astleford moved to New Orleans, La., and now freelances for publications such as ESPN.com and New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

CJR: The journalistic education of Gabriel García Márquez

The Columbia Journalism Review had a wonderful article about the role journalism had on the budding career of Gabriel García Márquez. New Journalism has been gaining ground in recent decades, but even in the 1950's, newspapers saw readers' excitement with the story behind the facts.

The renowned author wrote a fourteen-part series for the Columbian newspaper, El Espectador, where he worked when he was 27. During the course of the series, the publication's circulation "almost doubled."

García Márquez had only been toying with some small fiction pieces at the time, but worked mostly as a journalist. This series, about the personal account of a shipwreck survivor gave him the liberty to repeat the tale is telling detail. Here's one sentence from the series:

“'Soon the sky turned red, and I continued to search the horizon,' recalls Velasco (or at least Velasco being channeled by the young reporter). 'Then it turned a deep violet as I kept watching. To one side of the life raft, like a yellow diamond in a wine-colored sky, the first star appeared, immobile and perfect.'"

Another thing to take from this story into the present is that audiences want to be entertained, but I don't think that has to be achieved by forsaking fact for gossip or by producing additional soft news. I think it comes through superb writing, as it should. And the fact that the newspaper doubled its readership through just this series alone really says that if the audience is enjoying itself, it's willing to buy whatever gives it the satisfaction worth an hour or so. Publications should stop trying to just get people to buy the facts from them, but convince them through good storytelling that the facts are worth the time and money they put forth to read a story.

Even aside from journalism, I think it's an important point to make note of another narrative journalist of last century who turned later to fiction: Ernest Hemingway, who wrote for Missouri's own Kansas City Star. Check out some stories of his stories from the newspaper here.

I'd say it at least has something to do with narrative journalist's ability to grasp real life events in a telling way, since all good fiction at least resonates with some part of reality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Highlights from this Sunday's Times (3/7/10)

Steve Cohen. (Richard Perry/The New York Times)

- N. R. Kleinfield on Steve Cohen, New York's Millionaires' Magician
- Elizabeth Green on ways to help teachers improve

Sunday, March 7, 2010

History. Hard Work. Kansas. And basketball.

As a kid, I remember playing basketball for hours in a day: shooting buckets until I couldn't see the hoop for the dark; ball-handling drills in my basement when it was too cold to go outside; shooting free throws even while my fingertips were dry, cracked and bleeding.

I cannot claim to know exactly what life is like in Larned or Chanute, but this story by Kent Babb in Sunday's Kansas City Star is still incredibly emotive for me. As a Kansan, a history major and a lover of college basketball, I still didn't know how rich my home state's heritage is where this sport is concerned.

Even if you don't love basketball — or have never visited a town of less than 20,000 — I'm sure you can enjoy this piece. With just the first graph, how could you not?

"They say the soul of basketball is out there in a place where grain elevators are
skyscrapers and barbed wire gives an order to things.

Some may find it saccharine, but I assure you it's real. There's a lot of truth in this thing.

PLEASE read it HERE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Highlights from this Sunday's Times (2/28/10)

Ravitch. (James Estrin/The New York Times)

- David M. Halbfinger on New York State's "Mr. Fix-it," Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch
- Dan Barry on things people did in Norwich, Vt., to prepare for the homecoming of the town's latest medal winner, Hannah Kearney