Monday, October 6, 2008

Spotlight on Oxford, IA

My man Hank Stuever of the Washington Post -- by far the best visiting professional to visit the University of Iowa J-school during my time there -- did a great write-up of the Oxford Project traveling exhibition in this week's Sunday paper. My mentor Stephen Bloom once said that newspapers from the coasts want two things from their stories about Iowa. 1. A story that turns the reader's view of Iowa on its head and 2. A story that completely reaffirms the reader's understanding of Iowa. And they need to do both at the same time.
I think Stuever's piece does even more -- it imagines a new way for people from the coasts to understand who Iowans really are, outside of the cornfields and caucuses. In other words, it is one of the first pieces of journalism that actually GETS the Oxford Project.
Here is some of Stuever on the OP:
"But this project is not precious. It is stark, almost to a point of severity. It is the Iowa that certain reporters try to bring to life every primary season in an election year, and of course fail to exactly portray while writing on the fly."

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