<B>A maverick's take on the news</B> Jim Bellows, one of the most respected editors in journalism, made his name working for the smaller newspaper in town. And that was by design. While moving from daily to daily over the course of a career that spanned more than half a century, Bellows had a penchant for taking the smaller of a city's two competing papers and revamping it to give the bigger one a run for its money.
In his colorfully written new autobiography, <B>The Last Editor</B>, Bellows tells the story of his maverick career at such publications as <I>The Miami News</I>, <I>The New York Herald Tribune</I> and <I>The Washington Star</I>, all of which are credited with revitalizing their cross-town counterparts: <I>The Miami Herald</I>, <I>The New York Times</I> and <I>The Washington Post</I>. By sparking vibrancy in declining, defeated newsrooms and fostering the talents of up-and-coming writers such as Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin, Bellows brought new life to dying dailies.
His philosophy was simple: We've got to get the other paper to jump in our pond. We've got to make waves. We've got to liven things up.
Structuring his book like a long newspaper story (the important stuff is placed up high, he tells us), Bellows recounts such memorable periods of his career as his stint with <I>The Washington Star</I>, a paper that had been overshadowed by the venerable <I>Washington Post</I>, which was guided by legendary editor Ben Bradlee and basked in the fame of the Watergate stories by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. In a way, Bellows made his mark as the anti-Bradlee, tweaking the nose of the big daily by playing up stories the <I>Post</I> missed and incorporating new sections such as The Ear, an infamous gossip column. Never complacent, Bellows went on to infuse his vitality and philosophy into The <I>Los Angeles Herald Examiner</I> and then a series of broadcast and Internet media projects. <B>The Last Editor</B> is an enjoyable, lively account of his impressive career, written with all the verve and whirlwind energy that made the author's life so memorable. <I>Dave Bryan writes from Montgomery, Alabama.</I>