Archive for category: Journalism

“Homicide” cop battling life on the streets once again

11 Mar
March 11, 2012

Former Sun writer tells how a character in his book faces another reckoning with the bullets he survived 25 years ago

From The Baltimore Sun, March 11, 2012
Reprinted with permission.
Photo by Gene Sweeney for the Baltimore Sun.

Seven-baker-twenty-four unit turns at Mosher and rumbles past that stretch of Appleton Street where Gene Cassidy took two in the head for the company, the first one stealing his eyesight, the second lodging in his brain beyond the skill of a surgeon’s knife.

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Build the Wall

31 Jul
July 31, 2009

Note the date that this ran in CJR – and even that was late for the industry to come to a reckoning.  The New York Times has now embraced a pay model as its future and is beginning to see a profit from its subscription base.  True, the NYT is a unique entity, in terms of content, but that’s why it needed to jump first.  The next step is for other papers with a national presence  – The Washington Post, the L.A. Times – to follow suit.  What they are waiting for, I have no clue.  If you can’t charge for your product, you have no product – a freshman marketing major can tell you as much.  And again, content and copyright have value.  They matter. –DS/em>

The Columbia Journalism Review, July 2009

Reprinted with permission.

Most readers won’t pay for news, but if we move quickly, maybe enough of them will. One man’s bold blueprint.

To all of the bystanders reading this, pardon us. The true audience for this essay narrows necessarily to a pair of notables who have it in their power to save high-end journalism—two newspaper executives who can rescue an imploding industry and thereby achieve an essential civic good for the nation. It’s down to them. The rest of the print journalism world is in slash-and-burn mode, cutting product and then wondering why the product won’t sell, rushing to give away what remains online and wondering further why that content is held by advertisers to be valueless. The mode is full-bore panic.

A Lonesome Death

26 Jan
January 26, 2009

William Zantzinger’s business card says he is an equal opportunity realtor.


From The New Yorker, January 26, 2009
Reprinted with permission. 

In February of 1963, twenty-four-year-old William Zantzinger, armed with a toy carnival cane and wrecked on whiskey, made a spectacle of himself at the Spinsters’ Ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore. He was a drunken country mouse in the big city, at a time when the notion of racial equality had barely shown itself in the neighborhood of his father’s tobacco farm. When the hotel’s black waitstaff was slow to serve Zantzinger another drink, he yelled racial epithets at Hattie Carroll, a barmaid and a fifty-one-year-old mother of eleven, and he rapped her on the shoulder with his cane. She became upset, then collapsed and died of a stroke.

A Newspaper Can’t Love You Back

10 Mar
March 10, 2008

Esquire, March 2008. Reprinted with permission.

To this day, I can — if I suffer to think on it — stand apart from the moment, watching as I try to slip my own skin, to disappear myself.

I have hair and forty less pounds. I’d pressed my pants for the first time all semester, even worn a tie, though I took it off in the car, thinking it made me look presumptuous. Shit, I am in that newsroom looking like the college kid I am, a fifth-year senior anyway, surrounded by the battle-hardened professionals of a delicate, precise craft.

They know I am ridiculous.

They’ve read it, in fact.

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Michael Olesker Is A Plagiarist? Who Isn’t?

18 Jan
January 18, 2006

From Baltimore City Paper, Jan. 16, 2006
Reprinted with Permission

IN THE SMALL NEWSROOM OF THE COLLEGE NEWSPAPER where I learned rudiments of craft, there was affixed to one wall a parody of Edgar Allan Poe, which began, “Once upon a deadline dreary . . . ”

The author, an alumnus of the University of MarylandDiamondback, had butchered “The Raven,” evoking the gothic plight of a journalist trapped at a typewriter, trying to keep his work fresh as he exhausted new developments in the top few paragraphs and was reduced to recounting backstory. To conclude each stanza, the haunting voice came to him:

Rewrite the background, ever more.

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