Beginning journalism students often try to insert themselves into the story, and they have a hard time understanding why they shouldn’t. It was explained to me that the reporter shouldn’t be part of the story. So here’s how I explain it: I ask, “Did you ever watch the movie ‘Men in Black’? Well, as a reporter that’s what you are. When they went out to investigate space aliens and UFOs, did any of the civilians remember they were there? No.” And this student today was like, “No! Because they used their neuralizer!” And I said, “That’s right! They used their neuralizer! Reporters are like the Men in Black in that way. They are not seen and they are not heard in any news report that they write. They are visible in the byline. That’s it.”

I made that analogy during a discussion among journalism professors on a Facebook post a few years ago. It resurfaced yesterday, and I’m so glad that it did during one-on-one consultations with my public affairs reporting students. I’d actually forgotten about this tactic because it hadn’t been necessary the last couple of years.

Well, one of my students who just couldn’t resist inserting himself into the story with stuff like “In our short interview, X told me …” and “X said when we talked about Y for this story” finally got it when I brought up the Men in Black analogy.

And as a bonus, I thought of another way to explain why synonyms for “said” are wasted creative energy: The NBA All-Star Game. There’s a place for creativity on the court and a place for discipline on the court. Go wild all you want in the lead and with your ending, which are the Slam-Dunk Contest in this analogy. But use “said” at the free-throw line, which is about quietly getting it done without thinking by putting your feet place, using the same amount of force, launching the ball the same way, following through the same way every single time. Anyway, I think he got it.

I am delighted to see the first review of my book, Yankee Reporters and Southern Secrets, came out last week. William E. Huntzicker wrote this for Journalism History:

“Fuhlhage delivers a comprehensive look not only at Northern newspaper coverage, but also at how often articles were reprinted through apparent exchange arrangements with other newspapers….

“He has done an admirable job of looking at evidence, such as the clippings they saved with their papers and their written responses to news coverage. Historians have widely reported on how generals used their public relations skills to court favorable coverage and followed their image in the press, but Fuhlhage has opened new avenues for exploring the use of news. …

“Fuhlhage here presents a disciplined, focused academic approach to the use of news in making military decisions, while noting the legacies relevant to the continuing use of intelligence in the war on terror.”

Find Yankee Reporters and Southern Secrets in a library here: https://www.worldcat.org/title/yankee-reporters-and-southern-secrets-journalism-open-source-intelligence-and-the-coming-of-the-civil-war/oclc/1089275147&referer=brief_results

Or buy it here: https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/66470

Since none of us is likely to be going anywhere for awhile and in anticipation of possible disruptions to the food supply, I’ve decided to expand my gardening from pollinator-friendly flowers to fruits and vegetables. Part of this is practical and part is nostalgic.

The practical part ought to be obvious: We’ve all got to eat, right? I’ve swapped beer for seeds that a friend and co-author who is about to move and won’t be able to put his old stock to use where he’s going (tough to grow things in the desert, right?), ordered seeds from the amazing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and ordered raised bed kits by Gronomics.  To work out what I’ll plant where, Mother Earth News has a great in-depth companion planting guide.

The nostalgic part relates to memories of my childhood. My family was cash-poor but land-rich. That land was deep, loamy Kansas hilltop earth, rich with nutrients deposited by the glaciers that reached as far south as northeastern Kansas. That land was charged with carbon by the aquatic life that once swam in the vast inland sea that covered that part of the country thousands of years ago. The meals we grazed on straight out of the garden while listening to Kansas City Royals baseball on the radio as the sun set were delights: English peas, green onions, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce. That was all wonderful, nutritious, raw food, washed and chopped and served with blue cheese dressing alongside burgers, with the strawberries topping ice cream for dessert. It makes me hungry just to type this.

The deeper nostalgia has to do with my grandparents’ garden next to the garage on their farmstead south of Wichita near Clearwater. Grandma made miraculous things with the produce she raised on that plot, which was modeled on the Victory Gardens that sustained civilians on the home front during World War II. I’ve never had fresher, more delicious food than the feasts we enjoyed in their home every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. This may be my best opportunity to recapture that flavor and revive those memories.

Here are the veggie seeds (plus tomatoes) that I’ve ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds:

  • Wood’s Famous Brimmer Tomato
  • Brandywine Tomato
  • Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato
  • Pantano Romanesco Tomato
  • Ground Cherry (Strawberry Husk Tomato)
  • Laxton’s Progress No. 9 Garden Pea
  • Thai Purpoe Ribbed Eggplant
  • Rosita Eggplant

To satisfy my sweet tooth (and give me something to put up that may resemble Grandma’s preserves), I ordered:

  • Tresca Strawberry
  • Honeydew Orangeflesh Melon
  • Sakata’s Sweet Melon

For flavor and to keep the bees happy:

  • Sirius Blue Sage
  • Rosemary (Rosy)
  • Lavender (Munstead Strain)
  • Anise
  • Wild Bergamot Bee Balm
  • Red Milkweed
  • Butterfly Weed

Looking at those lists, which don’t include the piles of seed envelopes full of more conventional varieties like beefsteak tomatoes, chard, kale, and Little Marvel peas that I got in the swap (some nearly 10 years old, so I’m not sure what the chances are that they’ll germinate), I’m reminded of something Mom always said: “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, Miguelito.”

They weren’t all my first choices, because the run on seeds that the pandemic-related uncertainty has triggered in homebound workers meant that most of my first choices were out of stock. But that might actually be a good thing. If I had bought what I knew from Kansas, I might not have thought so much about which seeds would work best in the cooler, wetter Michigan summer.

I’ll be back from time to time to share what I’ve learned. I hope you’ll come back for more. Happy gardening, let’s move onward to victory over the coronavirus, and let’s all stay home and stay safe.

 

 

IMG_20180203_135415.jpg

This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour‘s Easy Amaranth Pancake recipe. Spelt is a high-protein, low-glycemic index primitive grain. Amaranth is a perennial grain high in protein and iron; it’s also a low-glycemic food. I was trying for something close to the Wild Roots Ancient Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix that I haven’t been able to find anymore after getting hooked on it and finishing off the massive bag I bought at Costco. Mine isn’t better; it’s just different. I will say, however, that this recipe is lighter than the Wild Roots version. The picture has pancakes with blueberries stirred into the batter, but blueberries or sliced bananas would be pretty great, too.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (or non-dairy milk)*
    • Add more milk for thinner pancakes, less for thicker cakes
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Stevia in the Raw
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the butter or vegetable oil.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together to evenly distribute the salt, baking powder, and sugar.
  3. Gently and quickly mix into the egg and milk mixture. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes, while the griddle is heating; it’ll thicken slightly.
  4. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, or set an electric griddle to 375°F. Lightly grease frying pan or griddle. The pan or griddle is ready if a drop of water will skitter across the surface, evaporating immediately.
  5. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the lightly greased griddle. Bake on one side until bubbles begin to form and break, about 2 minutes; then turn the pancakes and cook the other side until brown, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn over only once.
  6. Serve immediately. Note: These pancakes keep well in the fridge for a few days.
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