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A news photographer, a layoff, a death, and then things got even worse. From the John Woodrow Cox’s short “Dispatches from Next Door: The pale glow of a brighter day:”

Determined to return, he spent his severance on camera gear instead of his mortgage. Friends implored him to at least shoot weddings. “I’m a newspaper guy,” he said. Things would work out. Then his father died, and Fred inherited responsibility for his younger sister, who has lupus and schizophrenia. He cashed in his 401(k). Zeke became his therapy dog. In October, the bank auctioned Fred’s house. Neighbors offered him the tent.

On that recent morning, Fred heated water in the coffeemaker and dipped in a razor. Leftover grounds swirled like flakes in a snow globe.

Not to belabor news about journalists in trouble, but the story of Scott Moyers, a Missouri crime reporter turned meth addict, is one worth reading. From Todd C. Frankel’s “He Lost It All to Meth,” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

He was a reporter covering crime, which meant he really covered meth. He knew the cops. He knew the judges. He wrote about addicts getting in trouble. He covered the desperate towns limiting sales of sinus cold pills. He was part of an in-depth project for the newspaper called “Life or Meth.”

He knew from his own family. His two brothers were meth addicts. The youngest was in prison right now on a drug charge. The other brother, Pat Moyers, was three years clean. It was Scott who dragged Pat to rehab that first time almost 20 years earlier. Scott was always the good brother, Pat said. A bit nerdy.

“I just don’t get it,” Pat said. “He was writing about the things he’s doing.”

In “The Way Back,” Dave Wedge and Casey Sherman wrote a long piece, for Esquire, about an unlikely cruise: 114 survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing and the families of the dead. Excerpt:

The trip ends in Tarascon, but before everyone parts, one of the French tour guides addresses the group. “This has been the most memorable cruise we’ve ever been a part of,” she says. “It has been such a sobering experience for our staff. We look at each of you and we see tremendous strength. Your strength has lifted each other, and it has lifted us as well.”


In a conversation with Wag’s Revue, John Jeremiah Sullivan talks about interviewing, notebooks, editing, fact checking, the influence on his journalism of idiomatic American English and more. Excerpt:

RM: One of your great gifts is your ability to walk that tightrope. How do you manage to avoid going too far in one direction or another?

JJS: I don’t know where this thought is headed, but I know it’s true, so I’ll just start with it: I would have never thought of doing that if I weren’t also looking at that narrator as a kind of classic journalistic character himself. I mean, it’s the whole Lost Illusions story, by Balzac. Provincial scribbler with a little bit of talent goes to the city and then uses his déclassé background as material. So there’s already a trope going on there. That’s when things start to get interesting for me. It seemed to me like a way to talk about class, which is something I was always looking to do.

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, chats with her editor, Gillian Blake, for Slate:

1402_SBR_SIXTHEXTINCTION_COVER.jpg.CROP.original-originalBlake: The process around The Sixth Extinction was a little different.  When you sent us the proposal, the concept for the book seemed pretty clear, and you had all the chapters tentatively mapped out. But when you started writing, the structure became something of a moving target. We had a bunch of phone calls and meetings in the first year or so of the writing process; in one, you admitted to me, “More pages than you want to know” had ended up in the trash.

Kolbert: I was trying to figure out the vantage point to write it from. I’m not a scientist, so I couldn’t write from the perspective of an expert. But nor could I write from the perspective of a naïf, who just sort of wandered into what’s arguably the biggest story of our time. So I had a hard time coming up with a way to get the book going and to explain—implicitly, of course—why I, as a journalist, was writing it. It was as if I’d planned out a 10-city tour through Europe, but couldn’t find my way to the airport.

Tip sheets:

“150 journalism clichés — and counting,” from the Washington Post, lists — with a bit of edge and charm — the words and terms banned by the paper’s Sunday Outlook section:

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Boston University journalism students Kyle Clauss and Alex Reimer amused and irked a lot of journalists recently with “Journalist Guest Speaker Cliché Bingo,” a faux game board, first published on, suggesting that speakers please stop dropping as wisdom the rewards of life as a journalist (“You get to see the world.”) and the overstated and obvious (“How many of you are on Twitter?”). Ungracious or on point, or both? You decide:


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