Column Archive

Billfish: Catch & Release

Billfish: Catch & Release Tom Poland Posted 6/19/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI wanted a real-deal Ernest Hemingway long-bill cap to let me see into the depths. One that would shade my Canon’s LCD monitor. One that might impart a bit of writing magic. The cap arrived along with a post...

Mystery Plant! #780

Mystery Plant! #780 John Nelson Posted 6/19/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comAn early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.--Henry David ThoreauI agree! And now that it’s summer, it warms up really fast around here where I live, so a morning walk is indeed the best time for me. My neighborhood is...

U.S. Supreme Court’s “Trump Too Small” Ruling Could Foretell Big Trouble for “Actual Malice”

U.S. Supreme Court’s “Trump Too Small” Ruling Could Foretell Big Trouble for “Actual Malice” Published June 2024 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications On June 13 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that 15 U.S.C. § 1052(c), a provision of trademark law barring registrations of...

A Coquina Sunrise

A Coquina Sunrise Tom Poland Posted 6/14/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netAt first I thought men had poured cement onto the beach. Protection against an encroaching sea, I figured. The waves had scoured it good, brushing tresses into it. I walked south a ways, shaking my head as to how man...

Mystery Plant! #779

Mystery Plant! #779 John Nelson Posted 6/12/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comBotanists have plenty of heroes. One of our best known, of course, is Charles Linnaeus, the "Father of Plant Taxonomy," who lived and worked in Sweden. His most memorable publication, probably, is a masterpiece called "Species Plantarum," which was published in 1753,...

“I don’t know” can be a great answer

“I don’t know” can be a great answer By John Foust, Advertising Trainer I remember talking about sales presentations with Edwin, who is the marketing director of a regional advertiser. “I’ve heard all kinds of presentations from media salespeople and I’ve asked plenty of questions during those conversations,” he said....

Mystery Plant! #778

Mystery Plant! #778 John Nelson Posted 6/5/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com“Habitat in Virginia.”                        Linnaeus, Species Plantarum (ed. 2) vol. 2, p. 1414            Well, yes, “it grows in Virginia,” but the one in this picture grows on the USC campus here in Columbia, an easy walk for me.Now if you draw a line...

Protect your precious credibility

Protect your precious credibility By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach What if your police chief came out with what sounds like a controversial statement?What if he said that illegal immigrants, criminals and rapists had invaded your community? Strong charge but is it true? Would you publish this without asking for evidence to...

Tribe

Tribe Aïda Rogers Posted 5/30/24 (Updated 6/5/24)By Aïda RogersWhen you think about it, friendship is a mysterious thing. I’ve been pondering it ever since a group of mine gathered for five days of nonstop togetherness after 34 years apart. We had all seen or spoken with each other individually and there...

No Damsel In Distress

No Damsel In Distress Tom Poland Posted 5/29/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netLate May, I made one last effort to see the rare rocky shoals spider lilies before they play out. Rain and high water had deviled the flowers and me all spring. Not this time. I made three trips in...

Mystery Plant! #777

Mystery Plant! #777 John Nelson Posted 5/29/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com    Let's be bees. Busily buzzing bees. If I were one, this is where I would be.            Very recently I spent part of a sunny afternoon at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, just wandering around in Marion Square, right in downtown....

Daddy Had A Worm Farm

Daddy Had A Worm Farm Tom Poland Posted 5/28/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThe towns sounded distant, not as miles go, but as memories. Hazlehurst, McRae, Baxley, Soperton, Alma, and Tifton. Tifton meant trouble.I was studying a map for a six-day trek into South Georgia in August. Near a place called...

Mystery Plant! #776

Mystery Plant! #776 John Nelson Posted 5/28/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comWe’ve had a number of  mysterious pine tree species in this column, and here is another. There’s always a new pine species to learn about: after all, there are about 100 species worldwide.This one is growing in a small park not far...

Fallen but not forgotten

Living on Purpose: Fallen but not forgotten Dr. William Holland Posted 5/28/24By Dr. William HollandThis week we honor those who died while fighting for our country. There was a time when society seemed to be more sensitive and compassionate about casualties of war, but today there are so many distractions...

Hemingway’s Pocket

Hemingway’s Pocket Tom Poland Posted 5/21/2024By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netWe give little thought to our pockets until one gets a hole in it. When it does, it becomes a liability. Well, what’s the history of pockets? When did these bags sewn into pants and jackets become handy for stuffing our...

Monsoons, Dogs, & Drought

Monsoons, Dogs, & Drought Tom Poland Posted 5/20/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netA spring long ago … It rained and rained. And then it rained some more. The rain gauge brimmed and our yard turned quagmire. It rained so long our Boston terriers couldn’t walk. We thought they had tick fever....

Mystery Plant! #775

Mystery Plant! #775 John Nelson Posted 5/15/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comIt’s not a grass, and it’s not a sage. It’s a “sedge”.This week’s column is devoted to a certain plant family, and especially a certain genus within the family. This would be the family named “Cyperaceae”, an enormous group, in terms of...

Cicadas’ Rise & Fall

Cicadas’ Rise & Fall Tom Poland Posted 5/14/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netA spring or summer day isn’t quite Southern without singing cicadas and it seems our annual cicadas love the heat of day come summer, singing best during sultry hours. To me, the singsong rise and fall of cicadas, a...

Robert Ariail, Cartoonist

Robert Ariail, Cartoonist Tom Poland Posted 5/14/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netIn the beginning, there was the urge to draw—and inspiration, Saturday morning cartoons.“I’d drawn since I was a boy, spending hours with crayons, pencils, manila paper, and an Etch A Sketch to render dinosaurs and other creatures. In junior high,...

Christ is interceding on your behalf today

Living on Purpose: Christ is interceding on your behalf today Dr. William Holland Posted 5/8/2024By Dr. William HollandSome individuals are healthier than others, but the uncomfortable facts reveal the human body is generally frail and vulnerable. I occasionally joke around with my Son-in-law about him being from another planet because...

Mystery Plant! #774

Mystery Plant! #774 John Nelson Posted 5/8/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comHow could anyone not love this lovely little plant?Its graceful stems are adorned with beautifully scalloped, bright green leaves. Rub the foliage and sniff: you’ll detect a charmingly spicy “earth odor”. Its little stems are perfectly square in cross section…so fun to...

Fly Down Hill

Fly Down Hill Tom Poland Posted 5/7/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI reached deep into my sense of place and reckoned the road ought to come out near Anthony Shoals Road, and it did. My parents drove me over that road when a boy. It was a dirt road then, and...

Why – and why not – record interviews

Why - and why not - record interviews By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach Well-known reporter Gay Talese shares my distaste for what we once called tape recorders. Today you can record interviews with your cell phone, even transcribe and edit them electronically.But do you need to?Talese called recorders a “benumbing literary...

Mystery Plant! #773

Mystery Plant! #773 John Nelson Posted 5/1/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comI remember a costume party once several years ago, it was Halloween, of course. There was a crazy guy there, very tall, with wild hair and a frizzy beard, both dyed bright yellow (how did he do that?), and then he was...

Troubadour Of The Night

Troubadour Of The Night Tom Poland Posted 4/29/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThree a.m. I looked out my bedroom window to see eyes aglow with foxfire. I could not see its head, its mouth, but from it came the sweetest, most melancholy song. Just like that I was so lonely I...

Mystery Plant! #772

Mystery Plant! #772 John Nelson Posted 4/24/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comWhatever humor this little plant might have must be truly tasteless. Well, its fruits are tasteless, anyway.The fruits are gorgeous, brilliant red, and are dead ringers for the cultivated strawberry. Bite into it, though, and you'll get a watery flavor, and not...

Brian Brown’s Vanishing Georgia, Part II

Brian Brown’s Vanishing Georgia, Part II Every state needs a Brian Brown Tom Poland Posted April 19, 2024By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netGeorgia’s a big state and the road from home can be long and winding. Brian Brown knows it well.“Being invited to stay in some of the historical homes I...

Brian Brown’s Vanishing Georgia, Part I

Brian Brown’s Vanishing Georgia, Part I Every state needs a Brian Brown Tom Poland Posted April 19, 2024By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThere’s another Georgia out there—a weathered, sun-bleached, fading Georgia. It nonetheless possesses the “beauty of decay” as one photographer put it. People caught up in the hectic rush pay...

Mystery Plant! #771

Mystery Plant! #771 John Nelson Posted 4/17/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comBehold this lovely flower! Now it’s spring--glorious spring!...and you can’t hardly go anywhere without seeing flowers. Lots of flowers.This flower is commonly seen on the ground, after it has been blown out of the tree from which it comes. It is an...

Mystery Plant! #770

Mystery Plant! #770 John Nelson Posted 4/17/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comAre plants wimps?There they are, growing with their little leaves, their roots in the ground, the little delicate flowers smiling up at the sun…and being eaten, trampled on, mowed down, dug up, burned, sprayed with herbicides, hardly ever putting up a fight....

It’s good to be a Gamecock

It’s good to be a Gamecock Aïda Rogers Posted 4/15/24By Aïda Rogers I’m a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and it may be that the greatest lesson it taught me was how to lose. Gamecocks know what I mean. It doesn’t matter where I am, whenever I meet another...

Solving the puzzle of advertising

Solving the puzzle of advertising By John Foust, Advertising Trainer We’ve all heard challenges described as puzzles. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a real puzzle and see how it relates to the particular challenges of creating advertising. Jigsaw puzzles, of course, are illustrations, photographs or other...

Start now to craft fresh, unorthodox election questions

Start now to craft fresh, unorthodox election questions Published April 4, 2024 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant Attention newsrooms: It’s time to get serious about 2024 elections coverage. I hear the collective groan. The reaction is likely shaded by the strident national contests and their seemingly never-ending campaign cycles.Community newspapers...

Mystery Plant! #769

Mystery Plant! #769 John Nelson Posted 4/3/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comWhen you look closely at our Mystery Plant, you can rather easily tell that it belongs to the bean family. Each flower is what we call “papilionaceous,” and in a fanciful way, butterfly-shaped. Five petals are present, all a beautiful pink or...

Mystery Plant! #768

Mystery Plant! #768 John Nelson Posted 3/27/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com"Now 'tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted; Suffer them now, and they'll o'ergrow the garden And choke the herbs for want of husbandry."                        [Shakespeare, Henry VI (part 2)]Watch out for the weeds, both the annuals and the perennials! Even in Shakespeare's...

A person is only as true as their word

Living on Purpose: A person is only as true as their word Dr. William Holland Posted 3/20/24By Dr. William HollandWe live in an age that tends to shrug its shoulders when confronted with spreading information that is not true. Instead of asking, like Pilate, “What is truth?” the postmodern man...

Mystery Plant! #767

Mystery Plant! #767 John Nelson Posted 3/20/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comAlthough spring has sprung, it is still a bit cool on these Southern mornings. As a botanist, I understand that many of my colleagues, botanists, that is, have been suffering through bouts of cabin-fever during the dark winter months, and now that...

Pulling down strongholds within our minds

Living on Purpose: Pulling down strongholds within our minds Dr. William Holland Posted 3/18/24By Dr. William HollandThe Human experience includes the standard requirement to choose right and wrong and has always been accountable when it comes to good and evil. Each of us has the free will to choose how...

Mystery Plant! #766

Mystery Plant! #766 John Nelson Posted 3/18/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com            I hereby decree that spring has arrived, along with its fragrant wisterias, brilliant jessamine, and charming crimson clover. Finally! And to celebrate, let me offer one of the most attractive of the spring-blooming Southeastern species...and a...

Mystery Plant! #765

Mystery Plant! #765 John Nelson Posted 3/18/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comPicture yourself in Bavaria in the spring, in a friend’s back-yard, admiring the view of the Alps in the distance. Your host, showing you around, spots this little weed, and exclaims, “Schau mal, Erdrauch!” (translation below…)            Our little plant is common...

Mystery Plant! #764

Mystery Plant! #764 John Nelson Posted 3/18/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com“Life’s a beach.” That’s what they say.This is a species of an oceanic, or “marine”, algae. It is indeed, one of the many species of "seaweeds", a very non-technical term, but a term that is useful. Botanists consider the true seaweeds to...

Predicting The Weather

Predicting The Weather Tom Poland Posted 3/8/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netSeems the TV weather guys get it wrong more often than right. Nor do they predict the same forecast. As one fellow put it, “If you don’t like the weather forecast, try another station.”I bring up radar of the Southeast...

Fuzzy reporting confuses your readers

Fuzzy reporting confuses your readers By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach Be specific, my first city editor drummed into my poor rookie brain.I've not forgotten it.Someone needed to remind this reporter. In an international newspaper, he wrote: Hamas released some hostages held in the Gaza Strip and Israel freed some Palestinian prisoners...

Being tempted to let down our guard

Living on Purpose: Being tempted to let down our guard Dr. William Holland Posted 2/26/24By Dr. William HollandYears ago I worked in a department of five people and one day our director was replaced with someone new. The new leader of our team brought a small radio into our office...

Mystery Plant! #763

Mystery Plant! #763 John Nelson Posted 2/21/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com¡Guacamo-le! Guacamo-le! Me gusta el guacamo-le!                                                                                       --a kids’ songThere are two basic reasons why you should make, and eat, guacamole.First, it tastes great. Guacamole, of course, comes from the avocado plant, which is native to warm semitropical forests of the New...

It’s time to do some spring cleaning

Living on Purpose: It’s time to do some spring cleaning Dr. William Holland Posted 2/19/24By Dr. William HollandDo you believe there is such a thing as good and evil, God and Satan? When something good happens do you thank God because you believe He blessed you? What about when something...

Mystery Plant! #762

Mystery Plant! #762 John Nelson Posted 2/14/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.com"In an early spring we see the appearing buds;Which to prove fruit, hope gives not so much warrant as despairThat frosts will bite them."                                King Henry IV, Part 2: I: 3.I'm just like Lord Bardolph, who was afraid that just as soon...

Remembering Cale Yarborough

Remembering Cale Yarborough Tom Poland Posted 2/14/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netThe breaking news alert held just 29 words.“Cale Yarborough, a NASCAR great, dies at 84. Known for his fierce toughness and grit, Mr. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times and the Southern 500 five times.”His death brought back memories...

A New Backroad Magazine

Backroad Portfolio A New Backroad Magazine Tom Poland Posted 2/12/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.net You cannot raise your ancestors from their grave, but you can appreciate how they lived. Just take a backroad deep into the countryside and perchance turn onto a dirt road. You’ll see old farms and their...

First Taste of Blackstrap Molasses

First Taste of Blackstrap Molasses Tom Poland Posted 2/9/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netMid 1950s, early morning on the farm, it was. Rivers of gold ran down the stack of pancakes on the old oak table. Butter pooled higher and higher and I expected it to spill onto the old table...

Put a stop to workplace silos

Put a stop to workplace silos By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Jim, who used to work with a local volunteer fire department, told me about the technique they used to keep everyone on the right roads to arrive at fire sites. “It was in the days before GPS,” he said....

Broomstraw Brooms

Broomstraw Brooms Tom Poland Posted 2/7/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netI call it broomstraw. Others broomsedge. Whatever you call it, it doesn’t kill my memories of my grandmother’s homemade brooms. About a yardstick long, they stood in corners throughout the house. That made them handy. They were simple. They were effective....

Mystery Plant 761

Mystery Plant! #761 John Nelson Posted 2/7/24By John Nelsonjohnbnelson@sc.rr.comIt's so Fly-Day, Fly-Day Chinatown…                                                                Yasuha, 1981This song came out 40 years ago, or so, and of course I wasn’t “hip” enough then to quite understand what it was all about. It was a rather popular song, though, in a good many...

When the Border Boys Were Young

When the Border Boys Were Young Tom Poland Posted 2/5/24By Tom PolandA Southern Writerwww.tompoland.nettompol@earthlink.netBefore the photos, Robert Clark had been photographing architecture for ten years. I had been writing scripts for documentaries. Much earlier, during a teaching stint, I submitted a paper to an academic journal. That earned me an...

Give readers what they’re interested in

Give readers what they’re interested in By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach NewYorker.com editor Michael Luo pays close attention to his readers’ habits. He measured the most popular New Yorker stories of 2023 by “engaged minutes” – the time readers spent reading them.He says he was surprised by what was missing. No...

Last call to help judge Nebraska’s contest

Last call to help judge Nebraska's contest By Richard Whiting I’ll not travel down the dark path of Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 album “Nebraska” and its title track, but I will remind you that our compatriots, cohorts, comrades — whatever word suits you best — in Nebraska need our help.If you...

Your active listening skills

Your active listening skills By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach The best acting advice I ever heard was to really listen to the actor talking to you instead of waiting to deliver your lines. Your attention will show in your eyes.Career coach Jennifer Herrity advises that active listening  helps you  focus.It...

Court Gag Orders Are Serious Business

Court Gag Orders Are Serious Business Published December 2023 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications There has been a lot of court action recently on “gag orders” that courts hearing some of the civil and criminal cases against ex-president Donald Trump have issued that limit...

Know when to stop talking

Know when to stop talking By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Jonathan told me about his friend Dave’s sports car. They rode around in it in high school, and although it was old even then, they loved the car and didn’t let its mechanical eccentricities bother them. Through the years, after...

Tune up your eyes & ears

Tune up your eyes & ears By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach I used to assign rookie reporters to interview mayors and police chiefs and others who might be newsworthy. Before they left, we discussed issues that might make a news story and their questions that needed answers.When they returned, I asked...

Does Using Personal Devices Foil FOIA?

Does Using Personal Devices Foil FOIA? Published November 2023 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Most of us use our cellphones and other portable devices for a wide variety of purposes each day, such as accessing news and information, checking our e-mail and social media,...

Sustaining Rural Journalism

INTO THE ISSUES Sustaining Rural Journalism Published Nov. 8, 2023 By Al Cross Nonprofit newspaper journalism, until now largely a feature of urban areas, is going rural – especially if the National Trust for Local News keeps up what it’s doing and plans to do.“By December, we will be the...

Write your stories in your head

Write your stories in your head By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach I’ve spent much of my life writing about people caught up in perilous and life-threatening situations. Driving to the office from an accident, fire, court house or other location, I would write a provocative, short, five- or six-word headline...

Treasure hunt for ad ideas

Treasure hunt for ad ideas By John Foust, Advertising Trainer Some years ago, I attended an exhibit of treasure from the Atocha shipwreck which treasure hunter Mel Fisher had located off the coast of Florida. The Atocha was the most famous ship in the Spanish fleet that sank in 1622...

Oops, They Did it Again….

Oops, They Did it Again…. Published October 2023 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Just over five weeks after all five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court issued resounding statements on the importance of open court proceedings—even if they differed on the consequences of...

Advertising’s slippery slope

Advertising’s slippery slope By John Foust, Advertising Trainer I remember taking a day-long ski trip to Virginia. The charter bus was filled with skiers who had different levels of experience: a few were pretty good, most were average, and some were novices like me.After a morning on the beginners’ slope,...

South Carolina Supreme Court is unanimous in its support of open courts and open records. Are the trial courts paying attention?

South Carolina Supreme Court is unanimous in its support of open courts and open records.  Are the trial courts paying attention? Published Sept. 2023 By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender On September 6 the Supreme Court of South Carolina filed an opinion vacating an order which had reduced the prison sentence...

Interviewing

How to interview anybody By Jerry Bellune, Writing Coach Your guidelines for interviewing anybody are thankfully similar.Your subject may be the President of the United States or the woman who just won best arrangement at the local flower show.1. Do your research, even if it’s only talking with those who...

Take steps now to report on 2024 budgets

Take steps now to report on 2024 budgets Published August 18, 2023 By Jim Pumarlo, Newspaper Consultant We’re more than halfway into 2023, and many local governments are well involved in exploring 2024 budgets. Are your newsrooms aware of the process? Are you keeping readers abreast of the dynamics?It’s not...