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New Journalism Movement promoter dies at age 86

By Nikki Weingartner     Mar 7, 2009 in Entertainment
Yesterday, journalists lost one of their own, James G. Bellows. Although his degree was in philosophy, he changed the world of journalism as a promoter of the New Journalism Movement, giving writers free reign in an unconventional style.
Journalists across the world say goodbye to an industry legend, James G. Bellows, the former editor of The New York Herald Tribune, The Washington Star and The Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
Bellows changed the way things were done in the world of journalism in 1964, when he called for a "supplement" that later became New York Magazine. He promoted a style that was emotional and truthful, called the New Journalism Movement, and one that was considered highly unconventional at the time. Stories written in the novel approach rarely made their way into news papers in the beginning but were found in magazines like The New Yorker and Esquire.
The four primary facets of New Journalism include:
Telling the story using scenes rather than historical narrative as much as possible
Dialogue in full (Conversational speech rather than quotations and statements)
Third-person point-of-view (present every scene through the eyes of a particular character)
Recording everyday details such as behavior, possessions, friends and family (which indicate the "status life" of the character)
Writers who believed in the New Journalism style of writing were given credence and "free reign" under Mr. Bellows. He gave writers like Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and Judith Crist an opportunity to be heard in a time when skeptics of the movement were in full force. His incredible stories like the 1965 series in the Herald Tribune City in Crisis that uncovered injustice in the courts, poor schools and housing and other problems in the city became evidence that New Journalism was more than a phase.
He was the underdog, taking on the challenges of running some of the second best news papers and altering journalism as we know it today.
After serving his country as a Naval Aviator in WWII, he graduated from Kenyon College with a philosophy degree. His first job was an editor and publisher at The Columbus Ledger, where he worked three years. He then moved on to The Atlanta Journal and then The Detroit Free Press before becoming the managing editor of The Miami News.
From there, it was the controversy of New York, where he ran the ship until the printer's strike of the 60s. Then onto The Los Angeles Times, Washington and back to California, where he stayed with The Los Angeles Herald Examiner until the early 80s. Bellows was also a managing editor for Entertainment Tonight and ABC's World News Tonight.
His book and autobiography, The Last Editor, was given praise in a 15 minute long interview on Charlie Rose back in 2002.
His belief in controversial topics and bringing out the truth was seen time and time again, from his publishing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from an Alabama prison, making front page news.
After 86-years of giving all journalists hope for a future and something more than just "the facts, sam," James G. Bellows passed away from Alzheimer's disease at an assisted living facility Friday, March 6, 2008. He was survived by his wife, four daughters, a step-son and many grandchildren.
Thank you for all you have done, Mr. Bellows.
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