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Know Your J-Jargon

news editor: The supervisor of the copy desk. At some newspapers, this title is used for the person in charge of local news-gathering operations. See also: copy chief. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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The Eternal Journal

Building a Newsroom Dream Team

The Eternal Journal is a fantasy “dream team” newspaper staffed by some of the most famous people ever to work in print journalism. This fun journalism education tool was put together by Mark Zieman, editor of The Kansas City (Mo.) Star.

Senior Management

MARK TWAIN, Editor-in-Chief

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort ’em as much as you please.”

  • The Hannibal (Mo.) Journal
  • St. Louis Evening News (composing room)
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Public Ledger (composing rooms)
  • The Virginia City (Nev.) Territorial Enterprise
  • The Sacramento (Calif.) Union
  • The San Francisco Daily Morning Call
  • The Buffalo (N.Y.) Express

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) achieved worldwide fame as an author, lecturer and humorist. Hemingway called Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” the greatest American novel. Like Ben Franklin, Twain began his career as a printer, then as a correspondent for his brother’s newspaper in Hannibal. He used several pseudonyms, finally settling on his famous byline while working as a reporter in Nevada, where his fantastic hoaxes and wild tales of mayhem, occasionally followed by an apology (“The story published in the Enterprise reciting the slaughter of a family near Empire was all a fiction…”) delighted readers and enraged rival editors, one of whom called him “that beef-eating, blear-eyed, hollow-headed, slab-sided ignoramus, that pilfering reporter, Mark Twain.”

Learn more about Twain at: The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Musuem; Famous Twain quotes

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Editorial Page Editor

“Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and in all places.”

  • The North Star
  • Frederick Douglass’ Paper
  • The New National Era

Born into slavery, Frederick Douglass (c.1818-1895) taught himself to read and write and started several newspapers after he escaped captivity. The Douglass home in Rochester, N.Y., became an important stop on the Underground Railroad; Douglass became one of America’s greatest antislavery crusaders. He helped recruit African-American troops to fight for the Union Army — two of his sons fought in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, dramatically portrayed in the film “Glory.” In later years he was appointed marshal of the District of Columbia and consul general to Haiti.

Learn more about Douglass at: The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

JOSEPH PULITZER, Managing Editor

“Our republic and its press will rise and fall together.”

Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), a German-speaking immigrant from Hungary, became one of America’s greatest newspaper publishers. His early crusading journalism, however, caused him many enemies. In his private life, he carried a gun in St. Louis and once was saved from a night attacker by throwing a tomato he had bought for his pregnant wife. In his newspapers, he fought back with similar violence. Sued by an opera singer who his paper reported gave a drunken performance, Pulitzer responded not with a retraction but with a story headlined “FULL AS A TICK.” His editor, John Cockerill, killed a lawyer in a shootout in the newsroom. The Pulitzer Prize today remains the height of journalism excellence.

Learn more about Pulitzer at: The Pulitzer Prizes online

City Desk


“My faith in the people governing is, on the whole, infinitesimal; my faith in the The People governed is, on the whole, illimitable.”

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is probably the most popular English novelist of all time. No other novelist has been able to create and sustain such enthusiasm from readers; on the docks of New York, vast crowds eagerly awaited the latest installments of his novels. The searing event of his life was being forced, at age 12, to work in a filthy, rat-infested warehouse washing and labeling bottles while his father was incarcerated in debtors’ prison. He later wrote: “I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget that my mother was warm for my being sent back.”

Learn more about Dickens at: The Charles Dickens Page

H.L. MENCKEN, Metro Columnist

“All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced upon them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.”

In his newspaper and magazine essays, Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) attacked virtually every cherished aspect of American life, from religion to politics to education — partly as a ploy to boost circulation. He fought for free speech “up to the last limits of the unendurable.” He convinced Clarence Darrow to become the defense lawyer in the Scopes evolution trial, then covered the trial himself. The American public (or “booboisie,” as Mencken dubbed them) both loved him and hated him, dubbing him everything from “the private secretary of God Almighty” to “an 18-karat, 23-jeweled, 33rd-degree, bred-in-the-bone and dyed-in-the-wool moron.”

Learn more about Mencken at: The Mencken Society Home Page

TRUMAN CAPOTE, Police Reporter

“All literature is gossip.”

A high school dropout and one-time apprentice fortune teller, Truman Capote (1924-1984) started his literary career as an office boy at The New Yorker, where one of his jobs was taking the blind James Thurber to his girlfriend’s apartment (once he slipped up and replaced Thurber’s socks inside out, eliciting pointed questions from Mrs. Thurber). An excellent gothic novelist and short-story writer, Capote cultivated an eccentric image that exploded onto the national scene with the publication of “In Cold Blood,” his chilling “non-fiction novel,” (or work of “faction”) that recreated the brutal multiple murder of the Clutter family of Kansas. Capote himself lives on in literature as the model for the effete boy Dill in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” written by childhood friend Harper Lee.

Learn more about Capote at: Truman Capote papers, New York Public Library

JOHN STEINBECK, Social Services Reporter

“A writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

  • New York American
  • The New York Herald Tribune
  • The San Francisco News

John Ernst Steinbeck (1902-1968) lasted only a few months as a full-time reporter, explaining later that when he was sent out to interview bereaved families and other sources he “invariably got emotionally involved and tried to kill the whole story to save the subject.” That empathy — and a series of menial jobs from ranchhand to chemical tester at a sugarbeet factory — forged a conscience that made him one of the most socially influential novelists of his time. A prime example was his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” the story of the Joads and their Dust Bowl journey to California. (“Okie use’ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now is means you’re scum. Don’t mean nothing itself, it’s the way they say it.”) Steinbeck later worked as a speech writer for Adlai Stevenson, and wrote an attack on Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He won the Nobel Prize in 1962.

Learn more about Steinbeck at: Nobel Prizes Web site; the Monterey County (Calif.) Historical Society

CARL SANDBURG, Labor Reporter

“Slang is the language that takes off its coat, spits on its hands, and goes to work.”

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) became a seasoned observer of the human condition after more than 20 years as a newspaperman covering labor disputes, race relations and workers’ rights. The son of Swedish immigrants, Sandburg quit school at age 13 and served in the Spanish-American War. “Chicago Poems,” published in 1916 and containing “Fog” and “Chicago” (“…City of the big shoulders”) secured his reputation as a poet who used blunt diction and jargon to express his romantic vision of the young, vigorous America. In later years he gave lectures, reading his poetry and singing American folk songs. He won Pulitzer Prizes for his classic Lincoln biography in 1940 and for poetry in 1951, and in 1964 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Learn more about Sandburg at: The Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association

H.G. WELLS, Science Editor

“My reply to the superior critic has always been — forgive me — damn you, do it better.”

  • The New York World
  • The Chicago Daily News
  • The Strand magazine

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) invented science fiction with Jules Verne, and unlike others of the genre was a practicing scientist. The son of a professional cricketer and a maid, Wells attended the Normal School of Science on a scholarship and studied biology under T.H. Huxley. He was called “the man who invented tomorrow,” and foresaw tanks, a world monetary system — and a Martian invasion. The latter, described in his book “The War of the Worlds,” was turned into a radio play by a young Orson Welles that panicked as many as 12 million Americans the night it aired.

Learn more about Wells at: H.G. Wells Society

ELIE WIESEL, Religion Editor

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Prolific author and educator Elie Wiesel (1928-), was still a child when he was taken from his home in Transylvania and sent to Birkenau, Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald concentration camps. His mother and youngest sister died in the camps. Raised in a small Hasidic community and trained intensively in Jewish scripture and mystical doctrine, he later studied at the Sorbonne and worked as a journalist for Israeli, French and American newspapers. He has written a series of well-received and well-known books and plays, as well as essays on Hasidic and biblical figures. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the committee called him “a messenger to mankind” whose message is “one of peace, atonement, and human dignity.”

Learn more about Wiesel at: Nobel Prizes Web site; Jewish-American Hall of Fame

Investigative Desk

IAN FLEMING, Projects Editor

“I felt I must do something as a counterirritant or antibody to my hysterical alarm at getting married at the age of 43.” — on why he wrote his first novel, Casino Royale

Ian Fleming (1908-1964) was a stockbroker, journalist, British naval intelligence officer and the creator of the most famous spy in literature: James Bond, Agent 007 (licensed to kill). Naming his hero after a real ornithologist, or bird expert, Fleming said he wanted the dullest name possible; he also thought little initially of his creation, calling him “that cardboard booby.” Perhaps to mock his critics, Fleming also stated that, beginning with “Doctor No,” he planned to write the “same book over and over again.” He more or less did, using a formula that mixed intrigue, whiz-bang gadgetry, exotic locations and beautiful, provocatively named women with bizarre international conspiracies.

Learn more about Fleming at: Ian Fleming Foundation; a biography of Fleming

NELLIE BLY, Investigative Reporter #1

“Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.”

  • The Pittsburgh Dispatch
  • The New York World
  • The New York Evening Journal

Elizabeth Cochran, or “Nellie Bly,” (1864-1922) was one of the most rousing characters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among her legendary scoops were faking insanity to get inside the notorious Blackwell’s Island asylum (“Ten Days in a Mad House”), traveling around the world in 72 days to beat the time of Jules Verne’s fictional hero and becoming the first woman to report from the Eastern Front in World War I. Upon her death, editor Arthur Brisbane wrote: “Nellie Bly was THE BEST REPORTER IN AMERICA and that is saying a good deal.”

Learn more about Bly at: The National Women’s Hall of Fame; Nellie Bly’s “Around the World in 72 Days”

HENRY MORTON STANLEY, Investigative Reporter #2

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

  • St. Louis Weekly Missouri Democrat
  • The New York Herald

Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) was a British-American journalist and adventurer who found the Scottish missionary David Livingstone in Africa while on assignment for The New York Herald. He fought for both the Confederate and Union Army in the American Civil War and led the expedition that established British East Africa. He retired from exploring to sit in the British Parliament, and was knighted in 1899.

Learn more about Stanley at: the Pegasos biography

State Desk


“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one… If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.”

Before he established himself as one of the most masterful and brilliantly experimental writers of the 20th century, the soft-spoken Mississippian William Faulkner (1897-1962) was also America’s worst postmaster. Sitting as far away from the teller window at the University of Mississippi as he could manage, ignoring the pleas of patrons as he wrote, Faulkner was accused by superiors of throwing “mail with return postage guaranteed and all other classes into the garbage can.” Faulkner’s response: “I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” Luckily for him, he proved a more dependable writer. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, and during his 1949 Nobel Prize acceptance speech echoed the theme of his major novels: “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.”

Learn more about Faulkner at: Nobel Prizes Web site; the Faulkner Web page.

National Desk

JACK LONDON, National Correspondent

“Invariably I complete every (story) I start. If it’s good, I sign it and send it out. If it isn’t good, I sign it and send it out.”

  • Collier’s magazine

A great American writer and outdoorsman, Jack London (1876-1916) was a sweatshop worker, sailor, oyster pirate, hobo, prospector and seal hunter, among other pursuits. His “The Call of the Wild” reflected his adventurous nature and established him as a writer. Another work, “John Barleycorn,” or “Alcoholic Memoirs” reflected his life as an alcoholic. At age 40, he was the best-paid and best known writer in the world; he also committed suicide, his health broken by numerous illnesses and substance abuse.

Learn more about London at: Jack London State Historic Park; the Jack London Collection at Sonoma State University

International Desk


“It is better to be making the news than taking it.”

From his childhood, Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) had an extraordinary memory and a fascination for soldiers and battles. After graduating from Britain’s Royal Military College at Sandhurst, he covered the South African war as a reporter and was captured by the Boers. His daring escape made him famous. In politics, he served twice as prime minister and was a member of Parliament for more than 60 years. His leadership through World War II personified resistance to tyranny.

Learn more about Churchill at: The Churchill Center; Churchill, the Evidence site

RUDYARD KIPLING, Foreign Correspondent

“I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew); their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.”

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay, India, the setting for his “Jungle Books” series of children’s stories. Kipling was educated in England, and later won acclaim for his celebration of British imperialism. Unlike his children’s literature, Kipling’s adult books have not attracted a modern following; yet in his own time he was regarded as a literary lion, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907.

Learn more about Kipling at: The Nobel Prizes Web site; the Rudyard Kipling Society site.

Features Desk

WALT WHITMAN, Features Editor

“A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, do the male and female act, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do anything that man or woman or the natural powers can do.”

  • The Long Islander
  • The New York Aurora & Evening Tattler
  • The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  • The New Orleans Crescent

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was America’s greatest 19th-century poet. Whitman served as a volunteer nurse to Civil War soldiers, writing letters home for them. He used his own money to publish “Leaves of Grass,” among the seminal works of American literature. Although its frank sexual references scandalized some readers, the work endured (Whitman helped out by writing some of the reviews himself). He sought, and largely achieved, a personal relationship with his readers and the new nation he exalted in his works, calling himself “Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,” a man who until his death was at ease with both Emerson and the bohemians of Brooklyn.

Learn more about Whitman at: The Walt Whitman Archive

EDGAR ALLAN POE, Sunday Magazine Editor

“I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.”

  • The Southern Literary Messenger magazine

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) popularized the short-story format and invented the modern detective story. Born destitute to alcoholic and consumptive actor parents, he was adopted by wealthy Virginians but ran away in his teens after quarreling with his foster father. At 27, he married his 13-year-old tubercular cousin; living in utter poverty, he wrapped her in his old army coat to provide warmth. When she died, he removed the coat and wore it to the cemetery. At 40, he died delirious from opium and alcohol abuse (and possibly rabies), talking to specters that “withered and loomed on the walls.”

Learn more about Poe at: The Edgar Allan Poe Museum; the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore

WILLA CATHER, Drama Critic

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born in Virginia, but was raised in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska, where she made her literary debut with a published essay on Thomas Carlyle. After working as a newspaper reviewer, she took a job at the muckraking magazine McClure’s, working her way to managing editor. But with the publication of “Alexander’s Bridge” and “O Pioneers!,” she left journalism to pioneer in her own way the American novel, often taking as her theme the study of dual impulses — exploration vs. cultivation, art vs. domesticity, excitement vs. safety. A lesbian who wrote primarily about women’s experience, Cather populated her novels with substantial working women who defy fragile feminine stereotypes. Her book “One of Ours” won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize.

Learn more about Cather at: The Willa Cather Electronic Archive; Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial


“Open big and keep it clean.”

  • Port Chester (N.Y.) Daily Item
  • New York Evening Mail, the World, and the Morning Telegraph
  • New York Evening Graphic
  • New York Daily News

He called clarinetist Benny Goodman a “trumpeter” and a band of New Zealand natives “the fierce Maori tribe from New England.” He forgot the name of The Supremes and urged his audience to fight tuberculosis by signing off: “Good night and help stamp out TV.” His notoriously stiff mannerisms and wooden delivery earned him the nickname “Great Stone Face”; Henny Youngman dubbed him a “new kind of frozen food.” But the fact is that Ed Sullivan (1902-1974) parlayed an uncanny awareness of public taste into one of the most successful television shows of all time, introducing America to acts ranging from Elvis Presley and the Beatles to Topo Gigio, the Italian mouse-puppet. And before he did any of it he was a newspaperman, first as a sports reporter and editor in the New York press and later as a popular Broadway columnist. His legacy lives on today in the chilly Ed Sullivan Theater, home to the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Learn more about Sullivan at: The Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Business Desk

BEN FRANKLIN, Business Editor

“If you would not be forgotten, As soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worthy reading, Or do things worth the writing.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) remains today for many Americans a model for the national character. From his early “Silence Dogood” columns to his “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” Franklin popularized his view of how one could improve himself through hard work, thrift and honesty. A printer, inventor, philosopher, diplomat and statesman, Franklin was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly and later appointed postmaster of Philadelphia. Together with John Jay, Franklin represented the new United States in signing the Treaty of Paris.

Learn more about Franklin at: The Franklin Institute; Ben Franklin’s autobiography

KARL MARX, Financial Columnist

“Information is the only delight of the newspapers.”

  • Rheinische Zeitung (Cologne, Germany)
  • The New York Tribune

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) was a German economist and revolutionary theorist. His father, descended from a long line of rabbis, converted to Christianity to preserve his job in Prussian. With Friedrich Engles Marx created much of the theory behind socialism and communism; his own body of ideas became known as Marxism. When his Cologne newspaper was banned by the government in 1843 because of his editorials, he left for Paris and, later, London. His marriage, literally to the girl next door, was wracked by poverty and Marx’s affair with the maid. The founder of communism left behind a meager £250 when he died.

Learn more about Marx at: The Marxists Internet Archive



“For we have been there in the books and out of the books — and where we go, if we are any good, there you can go as far as we have been.”

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) created a singular style of prose, driven by action and quotes and a blend of realism and romanticism, that made him the leader of the so-called Lost Generation after World War I. Starting his stories by writing “one true sentence,” his fiction was based partly on his own adventurous life: covering fires and murders in Kansas City, getting wounded by shrapnel as an ambulance driver in Italy, living in the Latin Quarter of Paris, running with the bulls in Pamplona, dude-ranching in Wyoming, fishing in the Gulf Stream and liberating Paris with the Fourth Infantry Division. Two plane crashes in Africa kept him from personally accepting the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature.

Learn more about Hemingway at: Nobel Prizes Web site; Hemingway’s Kansas City (Mo.) Star stories

BAT MASTERSON, Sports Columnist

“There are many in this old world of ours who hold that things break about even for all of us. I have observed, for example, that we all get about the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summertime and the poor get it in winter.”

  • George’s Weekly (Denver)
  • The (New York) Morning Telegraph

William Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson (1853-1921) was a scout, Indian fighter, buffalo hunter, saloon owner and sheriff of Ford County, Kan., (home of Dodge City). In 1902, Bat gave up his career as a gunslinger-lawman-gambler to work as a sports writer in New York, where he became an authority on boxing. One paper wrote: “He died at his desk gripping his pen with the tenacity with which he formerly clung to his six-shooter.”

Learn more about Masterson at: Museum of the West Web site; a Bat Masterson biography page

Photography Desk


“For a few minutes I think I could commit murder if anyone gets in the way of what I am doing…. There is that moment when people and surroundings fall into a relationship that is utterly pictorial. The Picture is suddenly there. It could vanish in a minute — and forever.”

Margaret Bourke-White (1906-1971) was one of Life magazine’s original four photographers — her photo of a dam under construction made Life’s first cover. While attending college to study herpetology, she became enthralled with photography and published a study of rural life for the Cornell newspaper. Her brilliant portraits captured every subject from German death camp victims to South African miners to the famous image of Gandhi at his spinning wheel. She also was the first woman to be accredited as a war photographer and fly a combat mission. Bourke-White collaborated with her husband, Erskine Caldwell, on a series of powerful documentaries, including “You Have Seen Their Faces,” on the plight of America’s sharecroppers.

Learn more about Bourke-White at: The National Women’s Hall of Fame; Photo-Seminars.com

GORDON PARKS, Chief Photographer

“I bought my first camera at a pawnshop for $7.50. It was a Voightlander Brilliant. Not much of a camera, but a great name to toss around. I had bought what was to become my weapon against poverty and racism.”

Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was born in Fort Scott, Kan., and didn’t graduate high school (blacks were told they were meant to be “maids and porters”). Nevertheless, Parks eventually became one of the world’s foremost photographers and creative talents. Beginning as a waiter, piano player in a brothel and big-band singer, Parks went on to become Life magazine’s first black photographer and a writer of poetry, a ballet about Martin Luther King and several works of nonfiction and fiction, including “The Learning Tree,” a novel about his youth which he later directed as a movie — one of several movies he made, including “Shaft.” He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1988.

Learn more about Parks at: A PBS interview; a biography that accompanied a traveling retrospective of his work

Art Department

WALT DISNEY, Art Director

“There’s nothing funnier than the human animal.”

Walt Disney (1901-1966) based Mickey Mouse on a little rodent he befriended while working in his small animation studio in Kansas City. After his studio failed, he left nearly penniless on a train for Hollywood. He told fellow passengers he was going to make animated cartoons. The reaction, Disney recalled, “was like saying I swept out latrines.” His “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the world’s first feature-length animated film, proved a stunning financial success.

Learn more about Disney at: Walt Disney Family Museum


“Without knowing exactly how to do it, I began to try to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded.”

  • Albany Morning Express
  • Harper’s Weekly magazine
  • Collier’s magazine
  • New York Journal
  • New York World

After failing at a series of political and business jobs around New York (one lasted less than 30 minutes), Frederic Sackrider Remington (1861-1909) struck out west in 1881 and sunk most of his inheritance into a Kansas sheep ranch — only to discover he hated that, too. After his next investment, a Kansas City saloon, also proved a failure, Remington saddled up and rode west again, determined to make his fortune as a writer and illustrator for the New York magazines. Over the next 25 years, Remington completed more than 100 articles and stories and about 2,700 illustrations for the major magazines of his day. It was Remington who was sent by William Randolph Hearst to witness the rebel uprising in Cuba. When he cabled home that he found no uprising, Hearst replied: “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

Learn more about Remington at: The Frederick Remington Art Musuem

PAUL REVERE, Design Editor

“The Regulars are coming out!”

  • The Massachusetts Spy
  • Boston Gazette

Paul Revere (1734-1818) learned his craft as a master silversmith from his father, who had changed the family Huguenot name from Rivoire “merely on account that the Bumpkins should pronounce it easier.” Revere later supplemented his income as a dentist, copper plate engraver and illustrator, producing currency, books and magazines, political cartoons and even tavern menus. As an express rider for the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, he was sent to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock that British soldiers (the “Regulars”) were marching to arrest them, a ride immortalized by Longfellow’s “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” His famous (and plagiarized) illustration of Boston’s “Bloody Massacre” served as a key propaganda piece to rouse the Patriot cause.

Learn more about Revere at: The Paul Revere House

Universal Desk


“The wastepaper basket is a writer’s best friend.”

Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), a born story-teller and the last of the great Yiddish-language writers, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978. He immigrated to New York in 1935 from Poland, landing in America knowing only three words of English: “Take a chair.” Singer won fame and affection for recreating the spiritual, social and intellectual world of Eastern European Jewry that was destroyed in the Holocaust. He wrote numerous children’s books as well, remarking that he had “500 reasons” for preferring child readers, among them that they weren’t ashamed to yawn openly if a story bored them.

Learn more about Singer at: Nobel Prizes Web site; Jewish-American Hall of Fame

SEQUOYAH, Copy Chief

  • The Cherokee Phoenix (inspired by)

Born to a white father and a Cherokee mother, Sequoyah (c.1760-1843) fought with American forces against the Creek Indians in the War of 1812 and noticed that the whites could write letters home and read military orders but the Cherokees could not. He spent the next 10 years living as a recluse among his people, who taunted him for his mysterious work mimicking the white man’s “talking leaves.” Sequoyah unveiled his syllabary in 1821, having reduced the entire Cherokee language to 85 symbols representing different sounds. To the amazement of his tribe — and language experts everywhere — Sequoyah became the only illiterate person ever to invent an alphabet. His syllabary revolutionized the Cherokee nation; within a short time nearly all of its members became literate and the bilingual Cherokee Phoenix newspaper was founded, fulfilling his dream of providing a written record of his people’s lives and history. Now a statesman and diplomat, Sequoyah made several trips to Washington on behalf of the Cherokee nation.

Learn more about Sequoyah at: the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum; a history of the Cherokee Phoenix from the About North Georgia site

Editorial Page Staff


“A free press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad.”

  • The Alger-Republicain
  • Paris-Soir
  • Combat

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was the leading voice of moral responsibility during the 1950s. In editorials, essays, novels and plays he explored nihilism, absurdism and humanism. He was born in poverty and attended the University of Algiers, later joining the resistance movement during the German occupation of France. Camus won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. “Had I been a judge,” he said, “I would have voted for André Malraux.”

Learn more about Camus at: Nobel Prizes Web site; The Existence of Albert Camus Web site

WILL ROGERS, Editorial Writer

“When I first started out to write and misspelled a few words, people said I was just plain ignerant. But when I got all the words wrong, they declared I was a humorist, and said I was quaint.”

  • Saturday Evening Post magazine
  • McNaught Newspaper Syndicate (weekly and daily columns)

Rancher, movie star, Broadway actor, philosopher and “gum-chewing master of the lariat,” William Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935) was also a writer whose daily “piece for the papers” was read by 40 million Americans. Born on his father’s ranch in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, Rogers attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, Mo., and later joined the circus as a trick-rope artist. He performed in vaudeville, joined the Ziegfeld Follies, and became a popular movie actor and author, often starting his short humorous pieces with “Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers.” A love for flying led him to become the first civilian to fly coast to coast, with airmail pilots. He died in a plane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska, with famed aviator Wiley Post. At the news of Roger’s death, cars pulled off the roads, businesses closed and Americans gathered around their radios, hoping it wasn’t so.

Learn more about Rogers at: Will Rogers Memorial and Birthplace.

Other Eternal Journal Staffers

SUSAN B. ANTHONY, Vice President/Human Resources

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations … can never effect a reform.”

  • The Revolution

As a schoolteacher in New York, Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) discovered that men were paid at a much higher salary for equal work. A tireless reformer in the anti-slavery and temperance movements, Anthony teamed with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1850 and shifted her efforts to a lifelong quest for women’s rights. The right to vote, she believed, was the crucial first step; her arrest and conviction for illegally voting in the 1872 presidential election gained her movement nationwide attention. “Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less” was the motto of The Revolution, the newspaper she and Stanton founded in 1868. But it wasn’t until 14 years after her death that the 19th Amendment was signed into law. In 1979, she became the first woman to appear on any American currency, the Anthony dollar coin.

Learn more about Anthony at: The National Women’s Hall of Fame

P.T. BARNUM, Vice President/Circulation

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

  • The Herald of Freedom

After a brief career as a journalist, Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891) became America’s most celebrated showman in the mid-1800s. While a newspaper editor, Barnum was arrested for libel three times, the last time spending 60 days in jail (he called the judge “a lump of superstition.”) He became a member of the Connecticut state legislature and the mayor of Bridgeport. The Barnum & Bailey Circus (the “Greatest Show on Earth”) was formed in 1881 with his competitor James Bailey.

Learn more about Barnum at: The history page of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

WARREN G. HARDING, Vice President/Advertising

“If you were a girl, Warren, you’d be in the family way all the time. You can’t say No.” — Harding’s father.

Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) holds the distinction of being the only newspaper publisher ever to become president; he was second-rate at both jobs. As a newspaperman, Harding preached the journalistic tenets of the day, then violated them, covering up important news embarrassing to some residents and assassinating the character of a rival Republican editor. His wife Florence (whom he dubbed “the Duchess”) ran the circulation department, spanking unruly newsboys. Harding also was a tobacco-chewing, whiskey-drinking, poker-playing philanderer, with at least two mistresses, one of whom bore his only child in 1919. He ran his presidential campaign mostly from his front porch, venturing out to give speeches half-heartedly. (After stumbling over one ghost-written passage, he stopped and said: “I didn’t write this speech and don’t believe what I just read.”) As president, he restored full press conferences and became a press favorite, which for a time hid the fact that his cabinet was rife with corruption.

Learn more about Harding at: The White House online; the Warren Harding page of the C-SPAN American Presidents site

GEORGE ORWELL, Vice President/New Media

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

George Orwell (1903-1950) was the pseudonym of British writer Eric Arthur Blair, whose experiences as an officer with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, a poor dishwasher in Paris, a tramp roaming the English countryside and a Loyalist fighter in the Spanish Civil War became fodder for a string of books and novels. But it was two brilliant satires attacking totalitarianism, “Animal Farm” (1945) and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949), that gained him worldwide fame. (He invented “Newspeak,” the truth-altering language of Big Brother’s regime, after writing weekly radio commentaries for the BBC during World War II.) Language, Orwell believed, “ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.” He died of a lung ailment just seven months after “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was published.

Learn more about Orwell at: The Political Writings of George Orwell

RUBE GOLDBERG, Vice President/Information Management

“Do it the hard way.”

  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Francisco Bulletin
  • New York Evening Mail, Evening Sun and Journal
  • McNaught Newspaper Syndicate

Pressured by his father to pursue an engineering career, Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) survived six months before quitting his job mapping sewer pipes for the city of San Francisco, a job “as interesting as it sounds,” he said. By the time he was 33, Goldberg had traded in his $100 monthly city check for $50,000 a year as America’s most famous cartoonist. Coming of age at the turn of the 20th century, Goldberg countered the impersonal world of industrial technology by drawing convoluted, whimsical caricatures of modern machines. (“How To Balance Wife’s Checking Account: A) Wife makes out check on overdrawn account; B) Ink squirts out window into eye of mounted cop’s horse; C) horse jumps, throwing cop who breaks flagpole; D) end of flagpole hits pushcart, tossing up fruit into mouth of hungry pig hanging from rope; E) extra weight of pig breaks rope, dropping pig on bagpipe which blows money into deposit slot, covering check.”) Today a “Rube Goldberg” invention is synonymous with any scheme that is needlessly confusing or complex. He won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1948.

Learn more about Goldberg at: Rube Goldberg Inc.; The National Cartoonists Society

Was your favorite journalist on this page?


  1. Pick a favorite journalist who (ideally) is:
    1. Dead, or no longer practicing journalism
    2. Famous outside the world of journalism
  2. Suggest a suitable newsroom position
  3. Mail your Dream Team selections to: zieman@kcstar.com



All photographs on this page are from The Associated Press and/or the photo library of The Kansas City (Mo.) Star. Photos may be downloaded for personal use, but cannot be reprinted or republished without permission from the sources above.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION includes original material as well as excerpts compiled (i.e., stolen word for word) from several sources, among them: “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” (Douglass); “The People’s Almanac I & II” (Wallace); “An Eye on the World, Margaret Bourke-White, Photographer” (Siegel); “The Fabulous Showman” (Wallace); “Nellie Bly, Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist” (Kroeger); “Voices in the Mirror” (Parks); “An American Primer” (Whitman); “A Jew Today” (Wiesel); “Ian Fleming” (Rosenberg,Stewart); “Always on Sunday: Ed Sullivan” (Harris); “Brave Companions” (McCullough); “Biographical Dictionary of American Journalism” (McKerns); “Oxford Companion to English Literature” (5th ed.); the Web site twainquotes.com; “International Dictionary of 20th Century Biography”; Grolier’s Electronic Encyclopedia; World Book Encyclopedia; Jewish-American Hall of Fame; “Rube Goldberg” (Marzio); and “Red Blood & Black Ink” (Dary).

SUBMISSION CREDIT: Steve Shirk (Bat Masterson); Chris Seper (Truman Capote).

Copyright 1994-2001, Mark Zieman, The Kansas City Star. All rights reserved.

This page cannot be published or reprinted without permission from Mark Zieman, The Kansas City Star (zieman@kcstar.com).