Busman's Holiday

         What those who fantasize about my line of work fail to realize that my actual job is to write as intelligently and insightfully as I can about every place I go. Think of writing a five-page term paper, rigorously researched, twice a week, sometimes more. Still want the job?

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Must Read for Journalists And Writers

         As much as anyone who was part of the world of journalism in the 1970s, McDonell carried some of the era’s aura around with him, having been an editor at Rolling Stone and spending a lot of time hanging out—a polite phrase for smoking dope and drinking a lot—with everyone from Hunter S. Thompson and George Plimpton to Jim Harrison and Tom McGuane.  He did stints as editor at Outside, Newsweek, Sports Afield, and Sports Illustrated, became president of the Paris Review Foundation, and joined th e the Board of Overseers of the Columbia Journalism Review. In  2012,  McDonell was elected to the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame.

     Accidental Life jacket SMALL comprsdHe was a traveling ringmaster at a time when circuses had three rings, even as he watched them all shrink to one, lose the animals acts and give it all over to the clowns in the 21st century.  He has, therefore, enough material for several volumes of his own bio, but instead, in his new memoir The Accidental Life, he distills all the important, funny, decadent, sad, egocentric, destructive, brave, manic, hysterical, and declining aspects of the last four decades of journalism into an elegantly written 370-page book cast in short chapters (the word count is even given), ranging from insightful personal essays on Kurt Vonnegut, Gay Talese, Jann Wenner, Liz Tilberis, James Salter, Warren Hinckle, and Steve Jobs to straight talk about the business of journalism, from money to deadlines, from ad sales and declining circulation, to having constantly to defend S.I.’s Swimsuit issue, which in his heyday sold more than 1.5 million copies on the newsstand.

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Not Just for Writers: Gonzo Journalist Dies

 

Hinkle-1024x1024.jpg         As Ramparts grew in notoriety and circulation, which topped out at 250,000, it attacked everything its editors and writers saw as wrong-headed, specious and downright criminal, and while never the pinko commie rag some accused it of being, it delighted in interviews with Che Guevara, with an intro by Fidel Castro, and published the prison diaries of Elridge Cleaver.

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When Editors Had Their Writers' Backs

In an ironic sense Woodward and Bernstein’s coverage of the Watergate Scandal back in the ‘70s put in gear two opposing aspects to journalism: On the one hand, editor in chief Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post courageously ran with the story while threatening to castrate his two young reporters if they got it wrong, which, on one serious occasion, they did.  And the NY Times has paid vast sums of lawyers’ fees to keep some of their reporters out of jail rather than reveal sources.  

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