Intro — Newspaper Dispatches

[Note: You can read all the posted articles in order by clicking on “Newspaper Dispatches” in the drop-down menu of “Other Writing” above. Or go directly to individual articles by using the sub-menu under “Newspaper Dispatches.” The dispatches appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.]


My first paid writing job was that of a newspaper journalist. I began just after graduating from university by free-lancing stories to the Minneapolis Star, where they appeared in the newspaper’s Sunday magazine. Later I worked as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers in Alabama, Georgia and Texas. I covered a wide range of assignments, including the crime beat, city hall, county politics, courts, education, consumer affairs, and maritime and transportation issues.

My stint as a feature columnist, with a column appearing three times a week, was my favorite job in the newspaper business. It was great fun. And readers seemed to appreciate the way I used humor when writing about the most serious and controversial subjects. Unfortunately, that put me crossways with the executive editor, whose sense of humor was… well, he never laughed much, and he eventually fired me. Not long afterward, the Texas Press Association announced that I’d won first place for newspaper column writing in its annual awards contest. By then, of course, the column was kaput. The editor hung the nice award plaque on the newspaper office wall anyhow. So it goes.

One day I’d like to put some of those feature columns up on this website, especially those that received awards and the ones that got me in trouble. If the newspaper will let me—it “owns” rights to the columns, legally speaking—I will.

Anyway, after I began writing fiction more earnestly, I continued to do free-lance journalism from time to time. Even now I contribute the occasional op-ed piece or column to a publication. In fact, for a while I was the official Central European correspondent for a progressive political journal based in the USA. I likely still could be if I asked its editor to renew my position. Maybe I will.

As I mention elsewhere on this website, as a journalist I’ve written hundreds if not thousands of articles, essays, columns and reviews over the years. What follows are just a few selections. They are chosen more for availability than anything else, which is why most are dated during the past decade or so. Much of what I’ve written is stored in boxes or buried in various periodical morgues. I will try to dig through that material now and then and see what I can find. With time, I will post more of them here on the website.