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Life and Letters

LIFE AND LETTERS   I was witness to the making of a 'scoop' in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War was on and the in­surgents penetrated the outer suburbs of Madrid. In the dingy office of one of our revered Sun­day newspapers a drunken journalist sat before his typewriter and tapped out the dateline­…MADRID. ‘As I write this’, he typed, ‘I can hear the guns of Franco's victorious troops enter­ing Madrid. My hotel is.,. now coming under fire ... and time is short.’ The following day the story appeared as a front-page report from the battlefield with a streamer headline, reading 'Madrid Has Fallen: Of course Madrid did not fall for another two and a half years. At the Wednesday editorial conference the editor greeted the journalist warmly— ‘A very near thing,’ he said, ‘suppose it had fallen, what a scoop we would have had!’   - From Confessions of a Writer by Vincent Brame.   After the 1973 Middle East war Bernard D. Nossiter of the Washington Post wrote: There is a singular frustration in covering a war in pro­gress. Nothing and no one is worthy of much belief and a reporter's own senses—sight, smell and insight—are of remarkably limited use. Three weeks of reporting from the Israeli side left me more convinced than ever that journalism is much like firing a mortar. To get anywhere near the target, you must first overshoot, then undershoot and hopefully come close on the third round.' There are two ways of doing the job; either sit in Tel Aviv to get the big picture or move out by press bus or rented car for a limited glimpse of a fighting front. Both were splendidly unsatisfactory.   -From Coups and Earthquakes: Reporting the World for America by Mort Rosenblum.   Ever since I can remember, our home has har­boured a fourth child—I Dunno. Everyone sees him but me. All r know is, he's rotten.   ‘Who left the front door open?’               ‘I Dunno.’               ‘Who left the soap melt down the drain?’               ‘I Dunno.’   ‘Who ate the banana I was saving for the cake?’   ‘I Dunno.’   Frankly, I Dunno is driving me nuts. He's lost two umbrellas, four pairs of boots and a bicycle. This morning at breakfast I said to my hus­band, ‘Who wants liver for dinner this evening?’ He looked up and said, ‘I don't care.’ That can only mean ...

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