Friday, May 24, 2013

FDR self-edits FTW

Not that this isn't a well-known story, but: I was at the Smithsonian American history museum today and saw FDR's revisions to his Pearl Harbor speech.

I think revisions, generally speaking, are where stories are made. And I love self-edits -- when a writer takes a second (or third, or fourth, or ...) look at what he or she has written, and sees it more clearly or in a different light. That new look often results in revisions that make the story, or, in this case, speech, better. (I'm distinguishing here from writers who pick away at their stories for no reason other than they can't bear to let it go).

In FDR's speech, the original line was, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in world history, the United States of America was simultaneously and deliberately attacked by Naval and air forces of the empire of Japan."

I don't even know what "simultaneously" was ever doing in that sentence. But when FDR changed that to "suddenly" and changed "world history" to "infamy," he gave us the speech's most memorable line.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hey, do you have the notes for that class I missed...?

Roy Peter Clark does.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jason Plotkin and I discuss "Finding their way out" at Dart Center panel on journalism and trauma

The York Daily Record/Sunday News' project about lasting trauma after the 2003 Red Lion School shooting was awarded an honorable mention in the Dart Center's annual awards for coverage of trauma. Visual journalist Jason Plotkin and I represented the YDR's team -- which included reporter Bill Landauer, graphic artist Sam Dellinger and assistant managing editor for visuals Brad Jennings -- at the ceremony.

Dart Center executive director Bruce Shapiro said there were 100 entries, of which 12 were named finalists. Judges awarded three honorable mentions and named two winners. At around the 12-minute mark, Shapiro had generous words for the winners and those who received honorable mentions.

"The distinctions between winners and honorable mentions are of no consequence in this room," he said. "All of the winners here today are all extraordinary journalists at the highest professional caliber, delving deeply with innovative techniques into the aftermath and impact of violence in ways that no journalist has really done before."

Stick with the video to hear him talk about our project. At about the 51-minute mark, Jason and I are part of a panel in which we answer questions from Shapiro about our project. We're on the panel with two members of the L.A. Times team that put together a great piece on a teen victim of a gang shooting; later, team members from the other honored projects spoke about their pieces. They are all well worth listening to and learning from.