Based on the levels of violence and tactics used by both police and protesters at U.S. protests in 2020, and during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, journalists reporting from upcoming political events and protests should be aware of and consider the following risks: Firing of rubber bullets, baton rounds, and projectilesLiberal use of pepper spray and tear gas Verbal aggression and physical attacks from protesters and militia groups The potential use of live ammunition by the police and/or protesters The dangers associated with attacks on buildings, vehicles, and barricades The dangers associated with rioting, looting, and arson The use of water cannons and long-range audio devices by the police Potential vehicle ramming of crowdsArrest and detention
Years ago, I would have expected safety precautions and other warnings to reporters who were covering elections in a dangerous foreign country. But this is the United States. If you’re a journalist, the article is filled with helpful advice. I’m just sorry to see it issued for our country.
When I was in high school, I went with the band to participate in the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Somewhere I have a photo of all of us posed on the Capitol steps. Now, that entire area is roped off, so to speak, as a red zone that few people can enter. There are national guard troops everywhere. If you’re a tourist, you probably won’t see anything. If you’re a reporter, you might see more than you can tolerate, and your life and your press freedom will be on the line.
My father, mother, uncle, and I all taught journalism courses. There’s no way we could have prepared our students for this. Berry College, where I taught, really doesn’t look like the kind of environment for training prospective reporters how to be Navy Seals.
I’m a long-time fan of film noir and had the genre in mind when I wrote my upcoming novel Special Investigative Reporter. A noir feature film is usually a fairly dark–and an often hopeless–kind of movie. It’s usually in black and white, features a lot of blunt, voice-over narration, and portrays cops and detectives trying to solve cases in foreboding environments.
Special Investigative Reporter isn’t a noir novel. It’s a mix of comedy, satire, and corruption. Yet, once I got my rights to the novel back from the publisher that released the original edition under another title, I thought we needed a stronger cover. I suggested to my publisher, Thomas-Jacob, that a big-city image might work. Melinda Clayton, who manages Thomas-Jacob and who writes darker novels than I do, designed a beautiful cover.
I like the city-scape scene, the word “bar” in the picture, and the stark, noir-film-like rendering of the title. The individual on the cover–who’s my protagonist Jock Stewart–looks like he could be a detective or newspaperman out of the film noir era. Melinda once told me that some of Jock Stewart’s lines reminded her of Humphrey Bogart. She has a good ear. I was thinking of the kind of voice-over narration he would do in such movies as “Dark Passage,” “Dead Reckoning,” and “Key Largo.” (If you like noir films and have Turner Classic Movies on your satellite or cable menu, look for Noir Alley. It features noir films–except in August–and I watch it like a religion.)
My protagonist Jock Stewart, who’s been a reporter since the days of letterpress, is old fashioned. He would despise the kind of “journalism” we see on the 24/7 news sites. This novel’s satire pokes fun at those kinds of sites and reminds us that journalism used to be about reporting the facts and not about displaying the reporter’s (or anchor’s) opinion about those facts.
I’ve been teasing you for a while about this upcoming novel, but we’re rather in a holding pattern waiting for Ingram to send us the proof copy of the hardcover edition. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying looking at Melinda’s cover.
Stewart: Before you start asking me questions, I want to know where the hell your copy editor is. Look at the title. Makes me look like I’m lame. The questions and answers are lame. “Sea of Fire” isn’t a loose biographical tail, it’s a loosely biographical tale.
MRT: Thank you for acting like a grammar nazi before we hit the questions your readers came here to read. So, tell us about yourself?
Stewart: That’s not a bloody question, it’s an order and I don’t like it. What it shows me is this: you didn’t do your homework before starting this interview. If you had, you’d be asking me questions like, “Were you really raised by alligators in a Florida swamp?” and “Why did you ditch gossip columnist Monique Starnes in favor of shacking up with the mayor’s wife.” But I’m not talking about that. As for me, I’m a newspaper reporter of the old school. Old school reporters smoke cigarettes, drink, shack up with women and do their homework before interviewing people.
MRT: Where do you get your ideas?
Stewart: God help us from questions like that. I get them from the editor. He says, “Stewart, get your ass in here.” Here is is office which is filled with cigarette smoke. There’s usually a gun on the desk. Then he says, “A source told me somebody got killed behind the windmill at the miniature golf course. Go out there and find out who’s dead, how they died, and whether the windmill was damaged in any way.”
MRT: Does “any way” mean blood stains or bullet holes?
Stewart: It means anything that shuts down the golf course so the kids can’t stop by an drop a few grand playing the links. Last year, the victim was left out there on the 9th hole for a couple of days and he just became another hazard. Business picked up for a while.
MRT: So, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Stewart: That day still hasn’t arrived. But, if you want to know why I work for a newspaper, it’s because I think people need to know what’s happening. That requires writers. My dear old daddy once told me that I wasn’t going to amount to squat and, looking at my career, you can see that he was right. I tried too prove him wrong by going into the gigolo business, but things didn’t work out.
MRT: Where can people find you on the web?
Stewart: They can’t.
MRT: Where can they find you.
Stewart: If it’s Saturday night, I’m sleeping it off in the slammer. If it’s lunch time, I’m eating lunch. If it’s bedtime, I’m in somebody’s bed. Seriously, I really don’t want to see the kind of people who are usually looking for me.
MRT: What are you working on now?
Stewart: I’m working on getting the hell out of this lame interview as soon as possible. Interviews like this are a dime a dozen. That’s why you see this same list of questions on so many blogs. If you’re talking books, which I guess you must be, my work in progress is called What Edward Snowden Does When He’s Not Taking a Leak.
MRT: I hope you did your homework before you interviewed him and didn’t start out with something lame like “Tell us about yourself.”
Stewart: You’ve got that right. Before I got to Putin’s bedroom, I knew more about Snowden than all the other reporters in the free world.
MRT: Putin’s bedroom?
Stewart: People said they were probably in bed together. He wasn’t there, but what with all the Ukrainian separatists, the place was kind of crowded. Snowden has a rich, full life–to the extent that’s possible in a country that was filled with commies a couple of years ago and is trying to revert back to a police state mentality.
MRT: I’m looking forward to the book?
Stewart: Want to be a beta reader?
Stewart: Good, because real writers don’t need beta readers to tell them how to write. God help us from people who write by committee, it you know what I mean.
MRT: I think I know, but I need to check with my blogging team here to see how to best respond to that question.
This interview first appeared on the Junction City (TX) Star-Gazer where people found it worked much better than the comics for lining parrot and hamster cages.
Jock Stewart Strikes Back by Malcolm R. Campbell –Now Available Audio, Print and All Ebook Editions!
Jock Stewart Strikes Back
by Malcolm E. Campbell
Since modern-day journalism is going to hell in a hand basket and/or nowhere fast, Jock Stewart strikes back by categorizing news events as satirical, outlandish, strange or political. Nonetheless, according to informed sources, the use of this volume as a journalism textbook has not been authorized anywhere the world is right as rain.
The fictional news stories and “Night Beat” editorial columns in this collection began as posts on the “Morning Satirical News” weblog and subsequently appeared in the Worst of Jock Stewart and/or the “Jock Talks” series of e-books. Jock Talks…Politics was a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee.
Stewart, who served diligently as the protagonist in Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, refutes charges that he was raised by alligators or hyenas. When he was a young boy, his dear old daddy said, “Jock, everyone but you and me is scum and I’m not sure about you.”
That proverb opened Jock’s eyes to the realities of the world, primarily that everything is worse than it seems: the small-town newspaper, the Star-Gazer, is allegedly run by fools and buffoons; the Junction City, Texas, government is allegedly corrupt and inept.
Jock Stewart Strikes Back is narrated and produced by Barry Newman, Florida. Barry’s career in media and journalism, including voice work in radio and TV commercials, lends a unique ‘Jock-ness’ to the production, and we look forward to working with him again in the future.
Nora Roberts sells 21 books every minute. When you go to her website, you’ll find all of her titles are available in an Excel spreadsheet. 160 of her books have been New York Times bestsellers. After all these years and all these books, I wonder if she still feels a sense of excitement and adventure on the day each new novel is listed on Amazon. On each book’s official release date, does she sit back in an easy chair, smile and enjoy the experience?
My second novel, Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, was listed there yesterday. Exhausted from non-stop proofreading, I didn’t notice the listing until late in the evening and the book’s description hadn’t appeared yet. It’s there now and yes, it does make me smile–partly because it’s there, partly because my Jock Stewart character is so off the wall, I can’t help but be amused at the antics he gets away with while following truth, journalism and the evil-doers who stole the mayor’s racehorse and killed his publisher’s girl friend.
Writing is an adventure that unfolds in the quiet of an author’s den. My den’s a mess and I have no clue where anything is. I’m the hermit of a room lined with books, some by Ms. Roberts and dozens of other authors whose work has also contributed to my on-going education. It’s nice, though, to step outside the solitude once in a while and see what’s going on in the world past my horizon of books. Seeing one’s book listed on Amazon is a perfect excuse.
I have a smile on my face today. When you read the book, I hope you will, too.
I am often critical of journalists. That’s because my father was a journalist and journalism educator, and I heard a lot from him while I was growing up how real journalists ought to approach the skills and ethics of their profession
Several years ago, I accepted a posthumously awarded press association award on behalf of my father, Laurence R. Campbell (1903-1987). Standing up there in front of a room full of veteran student publications advisers, a few of whom were once my father’s students, I wondered how a writer who didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps could possibly connect with the audience.
All I knew to say was: “I worked as a college journalism instructor and student publications adviser for three years. I have to tell you that I felt like I was on a runaway horse.”
They knew what I meant. My father spent his life training others to be real journalists. He wrote hundreds of trade publication articles, ran summer journalism institutes and authored or co-authored numerous textbooks. The advisers attending that Florida scholastic Press Association convention in Tampa knew these books better than I even though I was there when Dad wrote them. I think, though, that I connected with the luncheon audience that day because, while I was an outsider, I cared a great deal about the profession.
With my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire coming out this summer from Vanilla Heart Publishing, I’m still an outsider looking into a world my father knew so well. My novel is a thriller with a lot of satire and comedy in it. To some extent, I’m satirizing the journalism profession and to some extent, I’m satirizing some of the pretentious people who make the news.
If I didn’t care, I couldn’t write the satire. I’m not a real journalist, but I know what one looks like and how he or she ought to act. For me, it was a real hoot poking fun at those who don’t live up to my expectations. I think my father would understand.