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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Editorial from #SharingwithWriters: Nostalgia and Freedom of the Press

Nostalgia has set in. It started earlier this year when I saw a movie about a shop in San Francisco that repaired and sold old typewriters. This week I saw the movie, The Post. I could almost smell the printer’s ink. And the longing I felt for renewed respect for what the press does for our democracy was palpable.

Then only a few days later I received a copy of a book called Stop the Press: How the Mormon Church Tried to Silence the Salt Lake Tribune by an old pal of mine in every sense of the word—James W. Ure. We both started learning our craft as “reporters” for our high school newspaper, The Thunderbolt, an apt name for a bunch of young muckraking journalism apprentices bent on making our school (the world, to us!) a better place. It happened to be nonfiction published by Prometheus about the newspaper that gave me my first professional job in journalism, The Salt Lake Tribune. Its crack marketing department had dubbed it “A Great Pulitzer Prize Winning Newspaper” for its coverage of a devastating earthquake in Alaska in the 1950s. Jim’s book is about how, in spite of the US separation of church and state, tried to silence its voice which was probably the only alternative voice in the State of Utah—a contrarian voice in a state where conservatism ruled and the newspaper they own, The Deseret News, is under their jurisdiction.

Those readers who happen to be conservative may think that is not a problem. Newspapering is a business, after all, and in a capitalist society, businesses are competitive. Some win, some lose. If they aren’t journalists or lawyers or constitutionalists they may not be familiar with the First Amendment.

However, I think they should be just as devout about protecting both power and the freedom of the press as I am, because all of us are writers. As writers, we all enjoy the protections of that amendment. We can choose to write what we want. Put our opinions in a book or on the web—from academic studies to erotica if we so choose. We can rant. Do satire (which I was once told by a British journalists Americans don’t really understand!). Say exactly what we think about anyone as long as they are public figures or can prove that what we are saying is fact and not libelous. That is why Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, is supported by its reputable publisher, Henry Holt. They supplied editors, fact checkers, and the brouhaha hasn’t dissuaded thembeen from keeping it in print  (or from making a fortune by doing so!). And despite their distribution booboos, it sold out in its first and second days on bookstores’ shelves. According to Publishes’ Weekly, it was the “hottest book of the year.” To their credit, Holt is standing by its author in spite of the political kerfuffle and printing as many books and shipping them as fast as they can to fill their orders for one million books. If they are smart—they will print some using digital presses as well as offset so they miss as few sales as possible.

Perhaps the longing I feel for the days when Wolff’s right to report a story he feels the public should know can never be universal. But I hope writers everywhere (and readers who benefit from the choices available because of this freedom) will stand up for Michael—and my friend Jim. For their right to write, so to speak. Regardless of whether their beliefs—political, religious, or gender-related may be. Freedom has always been something that runs both upstream and downstream. When we shut freedom down, we may suffer when someone who agrees with us no longer has that right or when the tables turn and we are the ones being shut down


Happy writing, editing and promoting in 2018,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
http://HowToDoItFrugally.com


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MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER



Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter (where she talks more about choosing and the advantages of winning contests and how to use those honors)  and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfileGreat Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com )