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Denny’s Daily Zinger: The Greatest Writing! Tom Wicker From Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963

August 18, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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The day President Kennedy was shot, The New York Times had one relatively unknown reporter in Dallas, Tom Wicker, age 37. His 3,696-word front-page account is a masterpiece.

For the news media today, it's easy to cobble together a story. Journalists have cellphones, helicopter and drone photos, Google, Internet posts, cable TV coverage and instant communications with the newsroom half a world away.

In 1963, Wicker was one guy tearing all over Dallas. A sampling of his memories of that black day:

I stood still a moment, then began running … I jumped a chain fence looping around the drive, not even breaking stride.

The search for phones began. Jack Gertz, traveling with us for AT&T, was frantically moving them by the dozen into the hospital but few were ready yet. I wandered down the hall, found a doctor's office, walked in, and told him I had to use the phone. He got up without a word and left. I battled the hospital switchboard for five minutes and finally got a line to New York …

[New York Herald Tribune's Douglas] Kiker and I ran a half-mile to the terminal, cutting through a baggage-handling room to get there. I went immediately to a phone booth and dictated my 500-word lead, correcting it as I read, embellishing it, too.

I urge you to savor this tour de force.

Journalism will never get any better than this!

Serious writers should re-read this every New Year's morning with resolve to go and do likewise.

Denny Hatch's new book is "Write Everything Right!" Scott writes, "***** Five Stars. The best part is that this book is not just for authors, journalists and other professional writers, it is for everyone. After all, everyone uses writing in some part of their lives and the way that you write reflects you as a person. Hatch provides you with a ton of tips that will help you turn your writing into something that people will be sure to read." Click here to download (Opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach Denny at


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